AUGUSTA, Ga. A 30-minute brain injury education program taught in the hospital may increase children's use of bicycle helmets, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report.
The researchers provided bicycle helmet safety and brain injury prevention information to 120 patients age 5 to 18 at Georgia Health Sciences Children's Medical Center and found that helmet usage increased by 72.5 percent within the first month following the program from only 11 children reporting wearing a bicycle helmet on every ride to 98 always wearing helmets.
"This is a big step in the right direction," said Rene Hopkins, Coordinator of Safe Kids East Central, a community-based childhood injury prevention program led by GHS Children's Medical Center, and a co-author on the study in the Journal of Child Neurology. Hopkins, a nurse educator who teaches bicycle safety in communities surrounding the Children's Medical Center, understands the numbers she's up against.
Only about one in four children age 4 to 15 wear a helmet when riding a bike and teen use of helmets is nearly zero, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, the CDC estimates that about 153,000 children are treated in emergency departments each year for head injuries suffered while bicycling.
"Wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of severe brain damage from an injury by up to 88 percent," said Hopkins. "We want to get this message out in a venue where it will be heard, and the Children's Medical Center seemed like the logical place. When I go to schools, I get the kids and not the parents. When I go to PTA meetings, I get the parents but not the kids. But at the hospital, we get both parents and kids at the same time, and they tend to be more receptive to prevention information. There is an understood credibility in the health care setting," she said.
All 120 study participants received a bicycle helmet and basic helmet s
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Georgia Health Sciences University