Researchers say helmet usage can curb brain injuries

Researchers say helmet usage can curb brain injuries

The number of teenagers in Maryland and throughout the U.S. who wear bike helmets on a regular basis is almost zero, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That contributes to thousands of personal injuries each year. In fact, doctors in emergency rooms see 153,000 children each year, treating them for head injuries sustained while riding a bike.

Researchers at a southern university, however, said that if hospitals offer a 30-minute program aimed at teaching young people about brain injuries, it could increase the number of kids who wear a helmet while riding. They also reported that only about 25 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 15 wear a helmet as they ride. Once researchers provide the helmet safety and brain injury program, however, that number grows.

Recently, after 120 people ages 5 to 18 were exposed to the program, the use of helmets grew by 72.5 percent in the first month.

The researchers said statistics show that when a rider wears a helmet, the risk of suffering severe brain damage falls by as much as 88 percent.

A basic bike helmet costs approximately $15, which is a small price to pay compared to the cost, both in terms of injury or death as well as medical care. The CDC said that the financial cost of head injuries or deaths resulting from riding a bike exceeds $3 billion a year. Another child-safety advocacy group said that if the number of head injuries fell by 25 percent, more than $500 million would be saved in lost productivity and medical costs.

The effects of a brain injury can be staggering. Brain injuries can lead to death or a loss of cognitive ability. No one wants to go through the pain of rehabilitating such an injury or watching a loved one suffer lasting effects.

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