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AAP: Helmets reduce risk of brain injury

The American Academy of Pediatrics reminded parents of the importance of helmet use and encouraged helmet use discussion with their children.

Wearing helmets can reduce chances of brain injury during bike riding and other sports, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The AAP stated that thousands of children per year experience brain injuries during recreational sports that could have been prevented with a helmet. To combat this risk, the AAP recommended that adults wear helmets as a model for their kids to follow.

In an updated policy statement, the AAP outlined the benefits of wearing a helmet, along with guidelines on helmet use.

“The evidence is clear: helmets save lives and significantly reduce the risks of severe injury,” said Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH, FAAP. “And yet sports-related injuries make up a substantial proportion of all traumatic brain injuries. As a pediatric emergency medicine physician, I advise all my patients – and their parents – to wear helmets.”

The statement stressed the importance of proper education involving helmet use. The AAP suggested pediatricians inform both parents and kids on the importance of helmet use, including age and sport appropriate helmets. They also suggested that public education cover regulations for helmet use, and that more studies cover health inequities, injuries, and barriers related to helmet use.

Appropriate helmet use was recommended, as the helmet should fit properly on a child’s head. If the helmet is damaged or broken, it should be replaced. Helmets should also match the sport a child is playing, as differences in engineering require different helmet types between sports.

The AAP suggested how to promote helmet use to children, including letting children pick out and decorate their helmets, along with adding reflective stickers and lights to make them more visible on the road.

Injuries caused by recreational sports are highest among children aged 5 to 14 years and young adults aged 15 to 24 years. Injuries are most common in bicycle riding, with 26,000 visits to the emergency department a year. Despite these statistics, a 2012 study indicated that only 42% of children aged 5 to 17 years always wore a helmet, while 31% never wore a helmet.

Lee encouraged that wearing helmets become a regular part of children’s routines, similarly, to wearing seatbelts. She added that families will be safer if they all wear helmets.

Reference

American Academy of Pediatrics: helmets significantly reduce risks of traumatic brain injury while bike-riding or participating in other sports. American Academy of Pediatrics. August 15, 2022. Accessed August 15, 2022. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2022/american-academy-of-pediatrics-helmets-significantly-reduce-risks-of-traumatic-brain-injury-while-bike-riding-or-participating-in-other-sports/