How helmets prevent serious injuries in kids

This spring, when your child takes off on a bike, roller skates or a scooter, remind him or her that safety is key—and it’s the law when it comes to wearing helmets in Maryland for riders younger than 16 (Annotated Code of Maryland § 21–1207.1). In Montgomery County, the rule applies to everyone younger than 18 (Montgomery County Code, Sec. 7–2).

Yet, wearing a helmet is not enough.

“Safety starts with proper helmet-fitting and use to adequately protect your child,” explains Scott Freedman, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “Poorly fitting helmets can double the risk of head injury if there is an accident. Severe head trauma accounts for 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths. At the same time, studies show that nearly 75 percent of fatal head injuries among young riders can be prevented by wearing a helmet.”

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue suggests using the “2-V-1 finger test” to make sure a helmet fits. When your child puts on his or her helmet, check for the following:

  • Two fingers’ width between the eyebrows and the front of the helmet.
  • V-shape under each ear, with the straps joined just under each ear at the jawbone.
  • One finger’s width under the chin strap. “As a father myself,” Dr. Freedman says, “I know it can be difficult to force a child to wear a helmet. Yet, as a physician, I know this small act can literally save your child’s life.”

Although every parent wants to avoid a trip to the emergency room because of a fall from a bicycle or roller skates, it is good to know that expert emergency medical care is available, close to home, when it is needed. Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center has Montgomery County’s first and largest full-service, 24-hour Pediatric Emergency Department with specially trained pediatric emergency physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pediatric nurses, medical technicians, pediatric surgeons, radiologists and anesthesiologists.