October 10, 2005
Methodist Rehabilitation Center physician offers tips on how to avoid serious bike injuries
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—As the weather turns cooler and more pleasant for outdoor activities, an increasing number of children will be on neighborhood streets—riding bicycles, scooters, skateboards and roller-blading.
A physician at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson wants motorists to be aware of this increased traffic and encourages parents and children to take appropriate precautions to ensure safety.
“Parents must remember that a helmet is a necessity, not an accessory for bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller skates or in-line skates,” said Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehabilitation Center. “And children who are outside riding bikes should always wear reflective clothing or stickers or use bike reflectors.”
Each year more than 600 bicyclists die in the United States, says Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program.
“Unfortunately, children ages 5 to 14 visit the emergency room more for bicycle-related injuries than from any other sport,” says Fairburn. “Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.”
Fairburn offers the following tips for bike safety:
- Always wear a helmet. The helmet should fit snugly and not move from side to side. The front of the helmet should be approximately one inch above the eyebrows and the chinstrap should be buckled snugly.
- Inflate tires properly and check brakes before riding.
- See and be seen. Always have reflectors on your helmet and bike. Wear bright fluorescent colors when riding.
- Obey traffic laws. Stop at stop signs and traffic lights. Look right, then left, then right again at all stop signs, stop lights and intersections.
- Always check behind you before swerving or changing lanes. Ride with the traffic, not against the traffic. Stop or slow to a crawl before entering any roadway or at blind intersections
- Ride predictably. No swerving or curb jumping and stay off the sidewalks and most importantly—pay attention.
More than 500,000 bicyclists are treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle related injuries, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Of those, over 65,000 suffer head injuries.