Boy wearing bicycle helmet

Use Your Head. Use a Helmet.

Megan Gruesser, MD is a board-certified pediatrician at Community Physician Network.

Spring sports season is upon us, and there has already been talk about concussions and the importance of wearing helmets. But helmets aren't just for athletes.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that there were over 9,000 emergency department visits for tricycle related accidents alone in 2012 and 2013. The most common body part injured was the head.

Head injuries can be quite serious and result in long term health issues. When used properly, helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injury by 88 percent.

Helmets should always be worn when operating a device with wheels. This includes bikes, tricycles, scooters (manual or electric), roller blades, roller skates and skateboards. A helmet should also be considered when skiing, snow tubing or horseback riding, to help prevent serious head trauma that may occur as a result of a fall or crash.

Always consider wearing other protective equipment such as knee and elbow pads, based on the specific activity.

Over 20 U.S. states have recognized the importance of helmet use by implementing laws that require helmets be worn by children ages 16 and younger. But helmets are only effective if worn properly. The following are some tips for selecting a proper helmet:

  • Place the helmet on your child’s head, level to the ground, with no more than two fingers width between the eye brows and the helmet rim.
  • The straps should form a “V” around the ears, and one finger should fit between the chin and the strap.
  • The helmet should not move when your child shakes his head up and down and from side to side.
  • The padding that comes with a helmet can be added for a tighter fit.
  • Always make sure you select an approved CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) bike helmet, which means it meets current safety standards.
  • Do not use a helmet if it is cracked or broken. Avoid used helmets as they may be damaged or may not meet updated safety standards. 

Lastly, parents, be a role model and wear a helmet! Young children tend to be more apt to wear a helmet if they see their parent wearing one. By reminding your child to wear a helmet every time they use their wheeled toys, it will become a routine. Then, hopefully, it will become a good habit that they continue to practice as they grow older.

So remember, use your head and use a helmet - even on children as young as age two!