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Helmet Use and Concussions

Bicycle riding is a favorite outdoor activity among many children and adults. While bicycling is a fun, active way to stay fit, it is important to wear a helmet to stay safe and protect yourself from concussions and other head injuries.

According to the Children's Safety Network, wearing a helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission provides up to an 88% reduction in the risk of head injury for bicyclists of all ages. Therefore, helmets are very effective in preventing harmful brain injuries in the event of an accident.

Every bicyclist, regardless of age, should wear a helmet. A helmet should also be worn when riding a scooter or skateboard. However, a helmet is not effective unless it is worn properly. A helmet should fit comfortably, be shifted forward on the head, and fastened with a tight chin strap.

While a helmet can lessen the severity of head injuries, bicyclists are still susceptible to concussions. Usually caused by a blow to the head, concussions alter the way the brain functions. While some concussion symptoms may be immediate, sometimes symptoms may not be apparent until hours or days after the incident. The most common symptoms are confusion, amnesia, and headache. Vomiting, slurred speech, and fatigue are also possible symptoms of a concussion. In any case, head trauma victims should seek medical attention immediately. When treating a concussion, it is important to rest both physically and mentally. Avoid any activities that require physical exertion or mental concentration. Concussion sufferers should not resume physical activity, such as sports, if symptoms are still present.

It also is important to ride in a safe area. Adults should always supervise children riding bicycles. Many bike accidents occur when a bike rider is hit by a vehicle during busy traffic times. Therefore, find a safe bike path or trail in your neighborhood. To see a list of bike paths in the Capital Region, click here.