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Did Your Child’s Holiday Present Come With a Helmet?

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I wonder how many children received bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades for gifts over the holidays? I always ask parents and children during the course of their annual exams about riding bicycles etc. and the use of protective gear. The answers I get from the kids at various ages really make me laugh, as they don’t always know the word “helmet”, but talk about “the thing that I wear on my head”. But for the most part the younger children use helmets, wrist guards etc. They are rule followers.

What I do notice is that as the children get older they are less likely to wear their helmets and the use of a helmet while bicycle riding or roller blading, skate boarding or rip sticking is a must, and is as important as buckling your child in their car seat or using seat belts.

It is therefore incumbent on the parent to lead by example as well as enforcing the family rules to wear helmets. Use of other gear is great, but we do a much better job as doctors in fixing bones and lacerations than we do head injuries. Head injuries are usually accidental and therefore kids of all ages think it won’t happen to them. But, unfortunately, head injuries do occur and they may be deadly. Every time your child gets on their bike etc, they must wear a helmet, and I am adamant that if they “choose” not to wear the helmet, then they cannot ride the bike or use the skateboard. If parents put the bike in time out until the helmet gets back on the head, we will be able to prevent tragic accidents.

Lastly, with more children participating in skiing there have been reports of head injuries and many resorts are requiring helmets in children under 13. I think it is a good idea to start off the new skier with helmets and again make it routine. The best skiers on the mountain seem to be in helmets, so they know something. There have been several recent deaths in teenagers who were skiing or snow boarding and skied into trees and suffered devastating head injuries.

Accidents are just that, unplanned occurrences. Insist that your children wear their helmets.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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