One Brain One Helmet campaign promotes safety
Stooping to eye-level with her four-year-old son, the young mother adjusted the small blue helmet emblazoned with green lizards like racing stripes. She made sure it fell a finger width or two above the boy’s eyebrows and sat flat on the top of his head. She then gave the helmet a firm tug, checking to see that the fit was snug. When the helmet didn’t give way or move from side to side, she finished by cinching the strap beneath the boy’s chin.
“Parents should purchase helmets that are developmentally appropriate [and] make sure [they] fit properly,” explains Julie Sharifian, regional coordinator in the greater Austin area for the Epilepsy Foundation Central & South Texas (EFCST). “Pedal-cyclist injuries are the leading type of unintentional injury in children. The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from wheel-related crashes is a helmet.”
Over 70 percent of school-age children ride bikes. Each year, more than 200 children are killed and 360,000 others sustain bicycle-related injuries. From toddlerhood through the teen years, children who use helmets have a significantly lower risk of sustaining a head injury. Few parents, however, require their children to wear helmets. Julie notes that more than 90 percent of school-age children lack this necessary protection. Because head injuries are potentially serious and can result in Traumatic Brain Injury and the onset of Traumatic Brain Epilepsy, the EFCST is raising awareness about the importance of helmets with this year’s One Brain One Helmet—Head Injury Prevention Campaign.
“[This] campaign coordinates with local area schools or child care centers, at bicycle rodeos, special events, or classrooms,” Julie explains, “[and] shares information about the proper use of helmets to prevent head injuries from accidents on bicycles, skateboards, skates, and scooters. Many parents do not realize the importance of insisting their children use helmets, [but] helmets should be used by children with any wheel-related device.”
The EFCST will distribute a number of helmets to children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds throughout the region. “We need students and parents to develop awareness of the correlation of head injury from wheeled-related accidents and epilepsy. We hope that awareness will help to prevent head injuries in children,” Julie says.
“Every dollar spent on a bike helmet,” she explains, “saves on direct medical cost. An investment in helmets saves lives.”
Epilepsy Foundation Central & South Texas
For more complete information on proper fit of a bicycle helmet and on bicycle safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at www.nhtsa.gov.