Fun Health — 06 June 2011
Protect that Nugget, the Importance of Bike Helmets

Deeply embedded in the ego of even the most seasoned cyclist is an air of invincibility.

We tell ourselves:  “I’ve ridden for years without a bruise.  My keen judgment and quick reflexes are enough avert any unfortunate cycling crash.  Crashes are for beginners.”

But, as with all sports, accidents happen.  In fact, cycling rests just below football when it comes to sport-related injuries.  Many cyclists often joke that a biker isn’t a true cyclist until they’ve had their first spill.

So, if you haven’t yet had that day when your tush meets the pavement, chances are it will someday.  It’s almost inevitable.  So it’s best to be prepared.  Caution starts in protecting your most valuable asset:  your head.

Consider this:

Of the more than 85 million cyclists in the United States, 600 cyclists die each year from cycle-related accidents.

An estimated 1 in 8 reported cycling injuries results in a brain injury.

In 2003 eighty-five percent of cycling fatalities involved cyclists not wearing a helmet, according to an Institute for Highway Safety report.

527 deaths occurred without helmets

57 deaths occurred with helmets

A helmet protects your head by breaking apart upon impact, absorbing shock.  Needless to say, wearing a helmet drastically decreases your chance of a cycling brain injury or fatality.

And unlike the primordial years when bike helmets looked like deflated kickballs, modern cycle helmets are lightweight, vented, and increasingly more stylish.  They come in an array of colors.  Some manufacturers even have child and women-only product lines.

Helmets are also very affordable.  A good helmet can be bought from between $15-$50.

When selecting a helmet, be sure to select one that is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The CPSC is a research group that was tasked by the U.S. Government in1999 to set a standard for bicycle helmets.  It maintains that role today.

Although a helmet decreases risk of head injury it is not a cure-all from all types of injuries. The most practical way to play it safe is to implement overall safe riding practices.

In order to get the maximum protection from your helmet, it should be worn properly.  Here are some tips on correct usage:

Apply recommended helmet position.  The helmet should be straight and level on the head.  It should cover the dome from the top few inches of the forehead to the back cusp of the skull.  This protects the most critical and injured parts of the cranium.

Secure the chinstrap.  Adjust the chin strap and back-ear strap for a snug fit.   Make sure it’s not too tight and not too loose.  The idea is to prevent the helmet from excessive movement.

Use the retention strap.  Most new helmets come with a retaining ring.  This is an adjustable plastic strap that lines the back of the helmet.  Adjusting it to your fit keeps the helmet from sliding too far back on the head, exposing the frontal lobes.

All in all, we recommend you wear your helmet in compliance with its manufacturer specifications for the highest degree of head protection.

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