News Center

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A heads-up about helmet safety while wheeling and on playing fields

INDIANAPOLIS – Cuts, bruises and even broken bones can heal. But damage to your brain can be permanent.

That’s why — no matter what your age — whenever you bicycle, in-line skate, ski or participate in any activity in which you might get a head injury, one thing is certain: A helmet is a must.

During a fall or collision, a helmet absorbs most of the force of the impact that would otherwise be absorbed by your head and brain. The thick plastic foam inside the hard outer shell of the helmet cushions the impact of a blow.

“Children especially are vulnerable to head injuries because they have proportionally larger heads than adults and their coordination is not completely developed,” said Randall Todd, M.D., medical director of the Emergency Department at Franciscan St. Francis Health. “So it’s more difficult for youngsters to avoid obstacles when biking, skating or doing similar activities.”

Parents should teach by example by always wearing their helmets when playing sports with a potential for a head injury, insisting their children do the same.

St. Francis experts further advise that children should take off their helmets before playing on playgrounds or climbing trees. A helmet’s strap can get caught on playground equipment or tree branches and strangle a child.

Finally, keep in mind that different types of helmets are designed for different types of activities. Only a few can be safely worn for more than one sport — such as a bike helmet, which can be worn for biking, recreational roller- or in-line skating, and riding a non-powered scooter.