515 Main Street, Olean, New York 14760
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Olean General Hospital

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Wearing a helmet is critical to preventing head injuries, says Emergency Department's medical director

Posted on: 06/29/2010

So many more head injuries and trauma could be avoided if only bicyclists, skateboarders and in-line skaters took the precautionary measure of wearing a protective helmet.

With the arrival of summer, Olean General Hospital’s Emergency Department typically begins to experience increased activity with part of the reason attributed to head injuries from children and adults who neglect to wear a helmet.

“Because of the head injuries we see from recreational riding, we highly recommend the use of helmets by everyone who’s on a bicycle, skateboard or in-line skates. It’s the most proven method for preventing injury or lessening the severity,” said Henri Lamothe, M.D., the hospital’s Emergency Department medical director.

“When helmets aren’t worn, the end result is far more severe head injuries and potentially catastrophic injuries,” Dr. Lamothe said.

Head injuries can be more prevalent in the younger population, partly because of riding inexperience and less body development, say safety experts. Their injuries also can be more severe.

“The pediatric population tends to suffer from more head injuries from their recreation activities. That’s why we particularly want parents to encourage their children to always wear helmets,” Dr. Lamothe said.

A helmet provides substantial impact protection, regardless of its cost.

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, “We submitted samples of six helmet models to a leading test lab: three in the $150 to $200 range and three under $20. The impact test results were virtually identical. There were very few differences in performance among the helmets. Our conclusion is that when you pay more for a helmet you may get an easier fit, more vents and snazzier graphics. But the basic impact protection of the cheaper helmets we tested equaled the more expensive ones.”

As added incentive to purchase a helmet, some discounts may be offered when a helmet is purchased along with a bicycle, skateboard or in-line skates, Dr. Lamothe said.

“With safe helmets available for such low cost, there’s really no reason for children and adults to ever ride or skate without one,” Dr. Lamothe said.

Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center are members of Upper Allegheny Health System.

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