Ask Dr. Nandi: 25 US kids treated in ERs every hour for bike injuries

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-28 09:40:14-04

A startling number of children visit Emergency Rooms for bicycle-related injuries. Roughly 25 children per hour are treated according to a new study.

Question: That’s a lot of kids - why are so many of them getting hurt?

I have three children and they love riding bicycles. But as a doctor I have seen far too many kids get seriously hurt so I make sure my children are wearing one important thing before they get on a bike – and that’s a helmet.  

I cannot stress how vital it is that children’s’ heads are protected. And this 10-year study shows why, because researchers found children who were not wearing a helmet were more likely to be hospitalized with traumatic brain injuries.  

 That means they could suffer from severe headaches, slurred speech, seizures, and memory or concentration problems.   They may need months of rehabilitation – and in worst case scenarios they could have permanent brain damage or death.   

Question: You often hear a lot of kids refusing to wear helmets, especially older kids.  And this study found kids between 10 and 14 tend to get injured the most.    

Lots of kids don’t like helmets but that’s not a reason to give in and allow them to ride without one. It doesn’t matter how much resistance I get from my kids, if they don’t wear a helmet, they can’t ride. 

My advice is to let kids pick out their helmets because then they’ll be more likely to wear it. But make sure it fits right.  

The straps should form a V around the ears and the chin strap needs to be snug, but with enough room for kids to easily open their mouths. Also check the space between the top of the helmet and the eyebrows, you want about two fingers of room there or they might have problems seeing what’s in front of them. 

And it’s also really, really important to teach your kids the rules of the road. Because when there’s a car involved, the injuries tend to be much more serious.