Helmets Save Lives


    A study from Imperial College in London shows that increased use of helmets by bicycle riders has markedly reduced head injuries (1).

    Do you know why woodpeckers don’t damage their brains when they peck on wood? Their skulls fit so tightly that they don’t allow the brain to move inside. Human skulls are enclosed in a sac of fluid so when you hit your head, your brain is damaged as it bounces, first hitting one side of your skull and then the other. Helmets should fit like a woodpecker’s skull; they should not allow any movement of your head when the helmet is held still.

    To fit a helmet, put it on your head and fasten the chin strap. If you can move your head inside the helmet, tighten the strap that goes around the back of your neck and adjust any padding inside the helmet. If you can still move your head, you can’t use that helmet. The chin strap should be worn as tight as possible without pressing uncomfortably on your chin.

    1) A Cook. British Medical Journal November, 2000.

    2) J Zentner, H Franken, G Lobbecke. Head injuries from bicycle accidents. Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery 98: 4 (NOV 1996):281-285.

    3) DM Sosin, JJ Sacks, KW Webb. Pediatric head injuries and deaths from bicycling in the United States. Pediatrics 98: 5 (NOV 1996):868-870.

    4) CJ Konrad, TS Fieber, GK Schuepfer, HR Gerber. Are fractures of the base of the skull influenced by the mass of the protective helmet? A retrospective study in fatally injured motorcyclists. Journal of Trauma – Injury Infection and Critical Care. 41: 5 (NOV 1996):854-858.

    5) C Peekasa, JF Kraus. Estimates of injury impairment after acute traumatic injury in motorcycle crashes before and after passage of a mandatory helmet use law. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 29: 5 (MAY 1997):630-636.

    Checked 8/9/08