Bike Helmets Work! (Pedcast)


Child's HelmetChild's Helmet


-Doc Smo here.  Welcome to another pedcast… the podcast that brings parents useful information that spans from diapers to the diploma.

-For those who are listening to their first pedcast, I am Dr Paul Smolen a general pediatrician in Charlotte NC with 30 years of experience.

-I started this blog for the benefit of my patience, to expand our conversations beyond  the office.

-The podcast format is portable and convenient for both parents to use.  Listen ON the website or download them for portable use.  Free and easy. Listen when YOU have time!  That’s the idea.

-Recently,  I had an experience with one of my patients that I thought everyone should hear about so it will the focus of today’s talk.

-With the family’s permission, I am going to tell you about what happened to one of my patients as it relates to an important pediatric topic, accident prevention.

-If you think about it, a large part of what a pediatrician does is discuss things that children can do to make their lives healthier.

-During checkups, I try very hard to make sure I review some dos and don’ts  every child should hear, from their doctor ,when it comes to safety.

-You’ve heard me talk before about the fact that injuries are THE MAJOR health problem that children have.

-Accidental trauma dwarfs all other diseases in childhood.

-Medical science keeps picking off major diseases like leukemia, meningitis, and congenital heart disease but we still have a long way to go when it comes to preventing accidents.

-So, its with that spirit that I try and remind every older child at every checkup to be properly restrained in the car, to learn to swim, never dive head first in muddy water, never roll on anything without a helmet, never do a flip on a trampoline, not to ever ride on a motorized vehicle like a dirt bike or four wheeler, and not to use knives, guns, matches or explosives as toys.

-As I like to tell my patients, if the little voice inside them says “My parents wouldn’t want me doing this, THEN DON”T!”

-So back to the story. This patient had been in a few weeks prior for his checkup and he got “the safety talk”.

-Two weeks later, his family got the call that every parent dreads… “Your child has been hurt in a bad bicycling accident and is being taken to the emergency room by ambulance.”

-Fortunately my patient had been listening to the helmet part of his “safety talk” because he was wearing his bike helmet that day.

-He said he was going medium fast down a hill off road when he skidded and fell on some rocks.

-He remembers the fall, the ride to the ED, and the entire experience at the hospital.

-Take a look at the photo of what happened to his helmet during the crash!

-I am not a neurosurgeon but I have seen enough head injuries to know that, without that helmet, this child would not be here today.

-He was taken off to the ED where he got the full workup… head, neck, and chest CT, neurological and trauma exam.  The full Monte.

-Facial abrasions turned out to be his ONLY INJURIES! Wow. Amazing. Not even a concussion, not a skull fracture, no subdural hematoma or anything.

-Can you imagine his skull taking the kind of impact that helmet took?

-You will hear people claim that bike helmets don’t work—Hogwash. I ‘ve provided links to prove to you that they do and I think my patient’s experience confirms their effectiveness.

-Wearing a helmet reduces a child’s or adult’s chance of a brain injury by 88%.  Yes 88%! That’s effective in my book.

-So here is the bottom line:

Insist that your child wear a helmet if they roll on anything/anywhere.  Just riding in the driveway you say? The asphalt in your driveway is just as hard as the street and can do just as much damage.

Set a good example and make sure your child has a parent for a very long time…wear your helmet when biking or rolling as well.

Make sure your child’s helmet fits properly and, if damaged, it is replaced.  Also, make sure they buckle it! It won’t work if it falls off their head at impact.

If you catch your child without their helmet on, take their bike or whatever away for a few weeks.  You need to send a clear message …no helmet, no bike, or skateboard, or scooter.

Remind your child that their most valuable body part is their head and neck…. Make sure they handle with care.


-So here are a few thing I learned from this terrible experience my patient went through.

Bike helmets work!

Patients sometime listen when we are talking and

Taking the time to talk to kids about what you expect and enforcing basic safety rules can pay off, big time.


-Well, that’s my post for this week.  Thanks for listening.  If you want to get into the conversation, tell your own story, or disagree with me, write into the blog!  I’m all ears.

-Spread the DocSmo word if you think this is valuable. If you want to continue getting your free pediatric  degree,  link to our website and you will get all the new and old content. We have also made it easy to send a post to a friend or relative if you think they might benefit from listening.  Try it out.

-This is Dr Paul Smolen, recording in beautiful studio 1E, that’s the first child’s bedroom, east side of the house, hoping when your child get’s their next head bump, they have a helmet to absorb the thump.


Until next time.

Smo Notes:

Persaud N, et al “Nonuse of bicycle helmets and risk of fatal head injury: A proportional mortality, case-control study” CMAJ 2012; DOI :10.1503/cmaj.120988.