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"Put a Lid on It" to Prevent Cycling Injuries

May 9, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Put a lid on it!

That's the message from the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics for Bike Helmet Safety Awareness Week. The academy confirms that riding without a bike helmet significantly increases the risk of sustaining a head injury in the event of a crash.

Wearing a helmet can reduce head-injury chances by 85 percent, says emergency-room Dr. Mike Gittleman, co-coordinator of the Comprehensive Children's Injury Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. He says those injuries can run the gamut.

"Sometimes you just see some abrasions, but they can also be more serious where you can have skull fractures, you can have intracranial bleeding, and it can even cause death."

Apart from vehicles, Gittleman says, bicycles are linked to more childhood injuries than are any other consumer product - including trampolines, ladders and swimming pools.
Through leading by example and wearing their own helmets, he says, parents increase the likelihood that their children will wear them as well.

It's critical to ensure a proper fit, Gittleman says.

"Just as you get your bike checked on a yearly basis, or you change the wheels on your roller blades, you would also want to make sure your helmet fits you, and make sure that it's fitted appropriately."

A local bike shop or a website such as that of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can provide tips for a correct fit, he says.

Bike-helmet usage in Ohio is less than 15 percent, Gittleman says, although with helmet legislation it could increase to 60 percent.

"The usage alone will not only save lives and injury, but it also saves health-care dollars. The expense on these injuries is great, and if we can prevent them on the forefront, it would be saving health-care dollars as well."

A few dozen Ohio cities have bike helmet laws for children, but no such law exists statewide.

Communities around the state observe Bike Helmet Safety Awareness Week with bike rodeos, cycling safety lessons and "bike-to-school" days.

The NHTSA website is nhtsa.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH