It’s strongly recommended that helmets are used to prevent head injuries in all age groups when using tricycles, bicycles, motorcycles, ATV’s and now electric scooters. A recent study about facial and head injuries from electric scooter accidents in the American Journal of Otolaryngology by Dr. A.Y. Bresler showed that these injuries have tripled in the past decade. Closed head injuries were the most common type and helmets weren’t used in two-thirds of the cases. They estimated 32,001 emergency room visits for craniofacial injuries.

Children (and adults) should be told that they’re loved and valued. Their brains can be permanently hurt and they can even die from head injuries. Head injuries can occur on sidewalks, on driveways, on bike paths, in parks and on streets. You cannot predict when a fall from a bike will occur. It’s important to wear a helmet on every ride.

A helmet should be worn squarely on top of the head, covering the forehead. If it’s tipped back, it will not protect the forehead. The helmet fits well if it doesn’t move around on the head, slide down over the wearer’s eyes when pushed or pulled. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snugly.

Bicycle helmets, by law, only need to meet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. They’re generally lightweight, have less cushion and have built in vents to help cool over heated bikers. Motorcycle helmets, by law, need to meet the CPSC and the Department of Transportation standards. They’re heavier, more durable, and have a cushier, snugger fit.

Back to electronic scooters, which are becoming increasingly common. There are significant variations between state laws. In Washington D.C. they’re classified as “Personal Mobility Devices” and not subject to inspection or helmet laws. In California, a person 18 and younger must wear a helmet. Some motorized scooters are marketed as “toys,” and certain models can reach almost 30 miles per hour. In March of 2000, Italy implemented a universal helmet law mandating helmet use for all types of recreational scooters. This legislation reduced head trauma from 26.65/10,000 person years to 8.88/10,000 person years.

Hopefully, this remarkable success will encourage not only the use of helmets for all ages, but legislation to back it up. Be smart and be safe.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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