Bicycling is rapidly becoming part of the normal commute for many people in Chicago. This should be a cause for concern, especially if drivers and cyclists refuse to properly share the road. When a car and a bicycle collide, the consequences can be catastrophic — particularly for the person riding the bike. A common and potentially fatal result of such an accident is a brain injury. Not only are brain injuries potentially fatal, they can also result in incapacitation.
Because of the heightened risk that bicycle riders have for brain injury, some groups have begun advocating for helmet safety. Many cyclists — children and adults alike — choose not to wear a helmet despite the possibility that a brain injury could change the rest of their life in an instant. This is why a pediatrician from Columbia, Illinois, began pushing for awareness on the topic seven years ago.
That was when the doctor saw a teenage boy at the hospital where he worked. The teenager was sitting in the hallway in a high chair and a diaper. He was unable to feed himself because he had sustained a serious brain injury during a bicycle accident. Some time later, the doctor began working with the group Helmets First to make children and families more aware of helmet safety.
Recently, a bike ride was held in order to raise funds for Helmets First so that the group can purchase helmets for children that are unable to afford them. Since the group’s inception roughly seven years ago — approximately the same time that the pediatrician became inspired — approximately 13,000 helmets have been distributed.
A fourth grader who fell off his bike and hit his head said that his helmet made the fall less painful. Such statements from children have given hope to those working to educate on bike safety.
According to the doctor, approximately 85 percent of bicycle injuries can be avoided through the protection provided by a helmet.
Source: KPLR, “‘Helmets First’ Holds Annual Bike Ride,” Roche Madden, Sept. 3, 2012