Posted on June 7, 2017

Lids for Kids and the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet

Group of six therapists wearing white t-shirts and bike helmets standing next to a tree with arms around each otherAt Mary Free Bed, we treat hundreds of people each year in our brain injury programs with a focus on helping each patient reach his or her maximum potential.

Helmet use while riding a bicycle has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent according to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2014, 429 (60 percent) had not been wearing a helmet, according to IIHS data. Properly wearing a helmet can help prevent traumatic brain injury and death for people of all ages. In 2015, IIHS statistics show the average age of bicyclists killed on US roads was 45 years, demonstrating that bicycle safety is important for children and adults.

Brianne Taylor, a recreational therapist at Mary Free Bed, suggests role models and parents use a “do as I do” vs. “do as I say” approach to getting kids to wear helmets. Adults who wear helmets help to protect themselves against traumatic brain injuries and model safe behavior to children and even their own peers. Brianne said as more people regularly wear helmets while bicycling and participating in similar activities, helmets become more of a societal norm, which may help to prevent a number of traumatic brain injuries and deaths.

“My passion for helmet safety comes from the work that I do day after day,” Brianne said. “I often hear people say, ‘I have gone my entire life without wearing a helmet and nothing has happened. Why would I now?’ My response is: ‘Why wouldn’t you?’ Accidents happen and no one ever plans on having an accident. Wearing a helmet when you ride a bike, motorcycle, skateboard, etc. is like wearing a seat belt when you drive. An ounce of prevention could save your life!”

The Brain Injury Association of Michigan states that brain injury is the leading cause of death to children who are involved in pedestrian accidents. They provide guidelines for fitting a helmet and highlight the importance of treating a helmet as a necessity, not an accessory. A helmet should meet safety standards (ANSI, Snell or ASTM) and be properly fitted to most effectively protect the brain.

Safety guidelines include:

  • Helmets should be worn level and low on the forehead
  • Measure two fingers width between the eyebrows and front of the helmet
  • The center buckle should be tightened and worn under the chin
  • No side-to-side movement

Lids for Kids is a bike safety program in Michigan emphasizing the importance of bicycle safety while providing children with properly-fitted helmets. The program has handed out 8,000 properly-fitted helmets to Michigan children since 2003. Lids for Kids will be in Grand Rapids from 10 am to noon on Saturday, June 10, at Garfield Park (Burton and Jefferson entrance). Local law enforcement officers will be on-site for a meet-and-greet. Other activities include a fire engine to tour, family-friendly activities, prizes and free helmet fittings. We invite you and your family to help prevent serious brain injury due to bicycle accidents!

In addition to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Lids for Kids Grand Rapids event partners include Grand Rapids Public Schools, FOX 17 of West Michigan, Grand Rapids Fire Department and Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation. Sponsors include Sinas Dramis Law Firm, the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, Agevix Professional Network for Exercise Therapy, Origami Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center and the Michigan Association for Justice.