Best way to prevent a brain injury: Wear a helmet

Summer is the biggest time for bicycle accidents. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, injuries from wheeled sports sent 426,000 kids — more than 50 children every hour — to U.S. emergency rooms last year. During that same period, Norton Children’s Hospital treated hundreds of kids for bike-related injuries, including concussion, traumatic brain injury, also called acquired brain injury, and other head trauma.

A 2019 study in the journal Brain Injury found that when compared with adults, especially those older than 40, children 17 years old and younger were the least likely to have been wearing a helmet during a cycling accident that caused a head or neck injury.

Injuries were much more severe for children not wearing a helmet; only 12% of injured kids wore helmets, according to the study.

Head injury is the most common cause of serious disability and death in bicycle crashes. The brain controls so much of who we are and what we do — if a child experiences a moderate or severe brain injury during a biking accident, they could face a wide range of challenges. These could affect their ability to think and remember, manage their emotions, and to perform basic physical tasks.

Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine

Connect with the Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute neurology team

(502) 588-3650

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How to prevent brain injury while biking: Wear a helmet

The single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes is a helmet. Parents can help their child by:

  • Making sure your child correctly wears a helmet and other protective gear each time they bike, skate or skateboard. A helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by as much as 88%.
  • Ensuring your child’s bike is in good working order and isn’t too big.
  • Making sure your child under age 10 only rides or skates on sidewalks, paths or other designated areas.
  • Making sure they wear bright colors while biking.

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