For many Californians, riding their bike is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Thankfully, most people will never have a collision with a car on their bicycle. For those who do, however, the results can include serious injury or even death. Up to 80 percent of these deaths are due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion.
Preventing concussions for cyclists
The good news is that many TBIs can be prevented by proper helmet use. Helmets can reduce concussions by 88 percent. They work best, however, when they fit properly. Follow these steps to make sure your helmet fits correctly:
- Measure your head and look for a helmet in the correct size, especially for children. Helmets come in different sizes, usually with replaceable pads to help make adjustments.
- Position your helmet level on your head. It should cover your forehead.
- Adjust the side straps. These are the “V” straps near your ears. The slider should sit just below the front of your ear with no slack in either strap.
- The center buckle should be just under your chin. Your strap should be tight enough that you can only fit two fingers under it. This may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but you quickly grow used to it.
- Test it out. Double-check your fit by giving your head a good shake. Your helmet should not move. If it does, check the other steps again.
Accidents can happen close to home, so wear your helmet no matter how far you plan to ride. Make sure your children do, too. Unfortunately, one-third of cycling fatalities involve children between the ages of five and 15.
Signs you might have a TBI
Wearing a helmet may greatly reduce your chances of a TBI, but they are no guarantee. If you have any of these symptoms, you may have a TBI:
- Balance problems and dizziness
- Memory issues and problems thinking
- Nausea or fatigue
- Mood changes
- Problems sleeping
Always see a doctor if you have any type of head injury. Even if it seems minor at first, TBIs can have lingering effects that need medical treatment.