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Our award-winning Kid's Health Magazine is designed to provide healthful information for your growing child. Please Note: Kid's Health Magazine is no longer being printed. Please visit our blog at http://www.choc.org/blog for the latest articles about your child's health from the experts at CHOC Children's. You can also receive our electronic Kid's Health newsletter in your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list: http://www.choc.org/subscribe

Helmets Are Cheap, Effective - And Required By Law

It’s a sight CHOC neurosurgeon William Loudon, M.D., always hates to see: kids riding on scooters, rollerblades and skateboards without helmets.

Dr. Loudon knows he might soon be seeing those kids again—on the fifth floor of CHOC. Despite his best medical efforts, their lives may be irreparably changed. And for some, life may simply be over. Helmets are cheap and very effective in preventing severe head injuries.

“In my recollection, I have never seen a severe brain injury in a patient who was wearing a helmet. I have even had patients who came in because an off-road quad fell on them—and they were okay,” Dr. Loudon says. “The skull was not designed to withstand hitting the pavement at 14 miles an hour. It needs protection.”

Dr. Loudon completely understands the “cool” factor regarding helmets. As a father, he has dealt with this issue at home. A few years ago, scooters became wildly popular in his neighborhood. Soon, his daughter was saving up for one, too.

When they went shopping, Dr. Loudon put a helmet on the sales counter next to the scooter. His daughter balked and said she wouldn’t wear it. Dr. Loudon gave her an ultimatum: no helmet, no scooter.

“She said the other kids would make fun of her. I said, ‘You tell the other kids that you are going to wear a helmet because your parents love you that much,’” Dr. Loudon recalls. “Within a week, every kid on our block was wearing a helmet.”

Dr. Loudon admits older kids may be a harder sell. He recommends helping kids find the most radical-looking helmet around. Let them put stickers on it or other decorations to increase the chances of them wearing it.

In addition to the “coolness” factor, he says adolescents tend to feel immortal. When talking to teens about helmet safety, Dr. Loudon often challenges them by asking, “How ‘cool’ it is to be at the hospital?” He recommends that parents talk about the highly “uncool” or “gross” consequences of a brain injury.

“Ask your kids how cool it would be to be poked for blood samples all through the day and night. How cool would it be to have to urinate into a cup? Or to not be able to eat or drink?” he advises. “Not wearing a helmet? Now that’s really not cool.”


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Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

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