This summer, play safe. Reduce the risk of serious brain injury for you and your children by wearing appropriate helmets when participating in sports activities.
June is Brain Injury Awareness Month. And even though June is almost over, school holidays are just beginning. Many of the summer activities children enjoy most pose a potential risk for brain injury if proper helmets aren’t worn. From bicycling to skateboarding to rollerblading to baseball, make sure you—and your child—play safe this summer.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) recently published an analysis of outcomes for children who acquire brain injury during childhood. While this isn’t a topic parents like to think about, brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in children.
Children are believed to be resilient when it comes to healing, but experts question whether good recovery of motor skills hides psychological and psychiatric issues that may arise later, as a result of the injury.
“What is clear, however, is that widespread views that young brains make better recoveries are naive,” researchers write. Recovery from brain injury is an additional challenge for children whose brains are already tasked with developing and growing.
Experts recommend focusing on prevention of accidents and infections to minimize the risk of brain injuries in children.
Do helmets reduce injuries?
A study published in Pediatrics in 2002 found that bicycle-related head injuries were reduced by 45 percent in provinces that adopted bike helmet legislation compared to those that did not.
The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of serious brain injury caused by a bicycle accident by 74 to 85 percent. They estimate that one fatal head injury could be prevented every day, and one nonfatal head injury could be prevented every four minutes if children and teens wore bicycle helmets. Children and teens have higher bicycle accident injury and mortality rates than any other age group.
Be a role model
To be effective, helmets need to be worn. How many times have you seen kids wearing helmets while cycling, while being accompanied by non-helmet wearing parents on their bikes? As parents, we can model safe behaviours for our children—and protect our own noggins at the same time.
Learn how important helmets are, and make sure they fit properly. Have a safe, and happy, summer!