Our family has a few helmet stories. One of them is something that happened to me and another is from another relative. It made me stop to think about all the times we do or don’t need to use them.
Bicycles: All riders should wear a helmet. Most states have laws that require children under 18 to wear one. In California, this law extends to any other item with wheels such as skateboards and roller skates. Even children being towed behind a bicycle need to be properly helmeted. The fine isn’t expensive ($25), but it is there.
Baseball: You may be wondering why children should wear helmets for baseball. The answer is easy, a ball or bat connecting to a skull can cause severe injuries. Children should wear helmets not only when they are at bat or as a catcher. They need to be on while waiting to bat, warming up and running the bases. Some leagues require the pitcher to also wear a helmet.
Wrestlers: There are two problems wrestlers face that make a helmet requirement wise. Wrestlers and boxers are more likely to develop cauliflower ear than any other sport. They are also at risk for serious head injuries. The wrestlers may have a mat but that doesn’t mean they will stay on it during a bout.
Horseback Riding: This is from personal experience as an adult. I would not be alive to write this article if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet when I was tossed. The back of my head hit a rock. The split in the helmet was about three inches long and maybe a half an inch wide in the middle.
Babies: This isn’t about helmets used for children who have severe medical conditions. It’s about helmets used to help a baby’s head stay round instead of flattening in the back. Once researchers found the link to many SIDS cases was sleeping on the stomach, babies have been (usually) laid on their backs. This has resulted in what some see as a deformity. It’s also started the helmet craze.
A study was done using a control group and a treated group of babies with some skull deformation. The treatment started at the age of six months and continued until about ten months. The results were about the same in between those not treated and those having the deformity treated. However, the side effects from the helmeted group makes it look like the idea isn’t that great. The babies had skin irritation, the helmet caused a “bad smell,” and the babies were in pain. It probably isn’t surprising that many of them resisted the helmets.
As parents, we need to make sure our children are cared for properly and that sometimes means something unpopular like a helmet. However, if there is a mild deformity to the back of the skull, the side effects of the “cure” don’t seem to be worth the cost.