Young Bicycle Riders Head Injury Rates Minimized by Helmet Wearing Law

Young Bicycle Riders Head Injury Rates Minimized by Helmet Wearing Law

Although most automobile/bicycle accidents involving adult cyclists are caused by the motorist, most of those involving child bikers are caused by the child. Young children may have difficulty understanding the rules of the road. However, many of these accidents can be avoided by helping children to understand and obey bike safety rules and exercise caution while riding in traffic.

Biking is a fun way for kids to be active and get outside, but danger lurks beneath those tire spokes. Each year, bike-related crashes kill about 900 people and injure 567,000 others. About 30 percent of those deaths were children, and 60 percent of those taken to the emergency room were children.

Bicycling is very popular -- in fact, it is estimated that 57 million Americans ride bikes of may different types. In order to have safe and enjoyable bicycling, cyclists of all ages should follow safe riding habits.

Casualty rates of cycling injuries for children are higher than for adults. Child and adult cycling accidents should be considered separately, since cycling behaviour, experience and injuries are different in the two groups. While children injured in accidents are mainly cycling for pleasure, many adult cyclists are injured travelling to and fro.

Boys were more likely to have cycling injuries than girls, as reported by many other studies. For example in England, over five times as many boys as girls are killed or seriously injured as a result of bicycle accidents. The increased injury rate in boys could largely be due to their riding more often . Among girls in school-age groups, cycling is not popular in our community, and their parents are less likely to allow them take part in outdoor activities

Children and adults should always wear helmets when riding bicycles. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (part of the Centers for Disease Control), bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.

Actuarial data and governmental statistics both show that cycling is a relatively safe activity overall, the risk being comparable with that of walking near traffic. Injuries for pedestrians and cyclists also follow very similar patterns. In both cases the dominant source of injury is collision with heavy motor vehicles, with pedestrians apparently being significantly more likely to be blamed for such incidents than cyclists (perhaps due to how often people walk while under the influence of alcohol).

The most frequent injury sites were the street (51.9%) and the home (42.3%), and the head was the part of the body most frequently injured (55.0%). None of the injured children was usinga cycling helmet at the time of injury. This study suggests mandatory helmet use, safety regulations and educational programmes for bicycle riders should be established in our community.

Most serious injuries in recreational activities involve the head.Study found that helmets prevented 85 percent of head injuries and 88 percent of brain injuries due to bicycle crashes,15 findings that have been confirmed by others.16 The speed and forces involved with in-line skating are similar to those involved in cycling, and helmets should thus have a similar protective effect.

Brain injuries are especially critical in children because their brains are still developing. If nerves and neurons in the brain are impaired, they may not be able to fully develop. These injuries have lifelong effects, and we may not see the full effect of injuries until a child is much older when he or she may have difficulty making good decisions or completing complex activities.

It's simple. If you fall from your bike, the bicycle helmet takes the force of the blow — instead of your head. When you're biking, wearing a bicycle helmet is the most effective way to prevent a life-threatening head injury.Bicycle helmets are cooler, more comfortable, easier to adjust and more stylish than ever before.

And don't assume that bicycle helmets are just for kids. Adults face the same risks as children. The average careful bicyclist may still crash every 4,500 miles, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Although collisions with cars or other vehicles are likely to be the most serious, even a low-speed fall on a bicycle path can be dangerous.

Today's child safety carriers and other options give you the opportunity to spend quality time with your child while introducing your little one to the open road. However, your child must always wear a helmet and should be at least 1 year old before you take him or her for a ride. Be a positive role model (and protect your own head) by wearing your own helmet, too.Among children, 75 percent of bicycle-related fatalities could have been prevented if all children on bicycles wore helmets. Some states have bicycle helmet legislation requiring helmets to be worn.

Laws requiring bicyclists to wear helmets do increase helmet use, and may also reduce head injury rates among young bike riders, according to a report in The Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates health research.

Anneliese Spinks of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia and Dr. Alison Macpherson of York University in Toronto examined the effectiveness of legislation requiring bike helmets, which has been enacted in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Of 25 identified studies, 5 met standards for statistical quality. Three were from the US and two were from Canada.

Four of the studies looked at helmet laws addressing child bicyclists only, and used adults as a control group, while the fifth used children from provinces where bike helmets were not required by law as a control group.

Three of the studies looked at head injury rates after the introduction, or enforcement, of legislation. One study, of police enforcement of legislation in San Diego County, found no change in head injury rates after enforcement began.

Another, a statewide California study, found an 18 percent drop in traumatic brain injuries among young cyclists after legislation was introduced, with the greatest reduction seen among children aged 9 and younger.

The third, from Canada, found a 45 percent drop in head injuries in provinces with bike helmet laws on the books, compared to a 27 percent reduction in provinces without such laws, a significant reduction.

The three studies that looked at helmet use found new laws or enforcement of existing laws significantly increased helmet use.

"More high quality studies are needed" to assess the impact of legislation requiring helmets on bicycle related head injuries, particularly in adult populations, and the potential for legislation to discourage cycling participation, the researchers conclude.

"Funding should be made available by governments introducing helmet laws to ensure that methodologically sound evaluations of the protective effect and potential reductions in cycling are conducted," they add.


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