Summer Safety

How to prevent injuries with helmet use

by Amy Goffena

It’s time to get outside and enjoy the summer months. This time of year it is great to be active but we need to remember to be safe. In the emergency department we call this time of year “Trauma Season.” This is because so many people are hurt by traumatic injuries that can be prevented.

One of the easiest things we can do to prevent a life-threatening injury is to wear a helmet when riding bicycles, motorcycles, ATV’s, scooters, playing contact sports, batting and running bases in baseball, skateboarding, and riding horses.

Helmets prevent what we in the medical field call TBI’s -- traumatic brain injuries. When we break our bones or cut our skin, these injuries can be repaired. Brain and spinal cord tissue is different. It cannot be replaced or repaired so we need to be especially careful not to injure it.

TBI’s that are not fatal can cause changes in thinking, sensation, language, emotions, movement, and memory.

Did you know that:

During bicycling, bike helmets are 85-88 percent effective in reducing the severity of head and brain injuries.

33 million children ride bicycles a year.

Children under 14 are five times more likely to be injured in a bicycle-related crash than older riders.

Nearly half of bike-related hospitalizations are diagnosed as traumatic brain injuries.

The majority (70 percent) of fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries; yet only an estimated 20-25 percent of bike riders wear a bicycle helmet when riding.

Bicycle helmets should not be worn for riding a horse. Instead, wear a horse riding (equestrian) helmet. Helmets are made differently for every sport.

If you have ever crashed in your helmet you need to replace it with a new one to ensure you are fully protected.

Enjoy your summer being active AND safe. Always remember to wear the proper helmet.

Amy Goffena, RN, CEN is the Injury Prevention Coordinator at

Billings Clinic.