Evidence in childhood helmet wearing

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Tangled Metal
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Evidence in childhood helmet wearing

Postby Tangled Metal » 15 Jul 2020, 1:02pm

I've not visited the ghetto much but another thread has got me thinking about it again. Another thread but me mentioning a telling off we got when it son broke his arm near the elbow when he came off his bike. I'm honest and when asked, for the figures A&E record I believe, whether he had a helmet on I said no. Well from a young age he made his own decision and before he could ride is even walk far he could take a helmet off and throw it into the canal. So we got out of the habit of trying to win that argument.

So now he'll wear one mountain biking but nowhere else. My query here is to find out the current state of play on childhood helmet wearing. AIUI there was considered some evidence suggesting young children are safer with helmets. Such that there's good reason to encourage it. Is this true now?

My view is to develop cycling safety in our son to minimise risk of a serious accident and awareness. Indeed risk assessment which is why he never complains about wearing the helmet mountain biking, well not much. Is this wrong? Is there good evidence to make helmet wearing advisable for kids and what age range is that for? Our son is a sensible 7 year old with good bike handling skills. Plus it's great that he's got over his stunt riding phase.

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Evidence in childhood helmet wearing

Postby Cyril Haearn » 15 Jul 2020, 1:06pm

Helmuts seem to be standard for little kiddies now, doubtless the LBS advises (grand)parents to get one when they buy a cycle
For all I know, with 'discount'
..
Fitting/wearing correctly and removal when playing have been mentioned elsewhere on these fora
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pjclinch
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Re: Evidence in childhood helmet wearing

Postby pjclinch » 15 Jul 2020, 1:29pm

Tangled Metal wrote:
So now he'll wear one mountain biking but nowhere else. My query here is to find out the current state of play on childhood helmet wearing. AIUI there was considered some evidence suggesting young children are safer with helmets. Such that there's good reason to encourage it. Is this true now?


No. My impression over the last couple of years is it's recently seen as The Thing To Do to show kids in helmets for publicity pics while there's a more even mix of adults with and without in imagery from e.g. CUK, Sustrans etc., but that could well reflect who's about to have their picture taken. It's also telling that while Sustrans will allow your child to do training without a helmet (with your written permission) they won't let an instructor not wear one, and the reason for that (I was told personally by their head of public engagement) is so the public didn't complain they were setting a "bad example", despite their own helmet policy saying otherwise. Thus, imagery could well be some degree of wanting a quiet life.

I have been recommending Tim Gill's Cycling and Children and Young People (https://timrgill.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/cycling-rpt-gill-05.pdf) for the 15 years since it was written because it's well written, well argued and doesn't have an axe to grind, and here there's the bonus that it is quite deliberately child-centric. While a lot has been published over the last 15 years nothing has that's really moved the arguments much. The section on what different organisations think has changed a bit, so e.g. Sustrans are no longer in favour of promotion and the general trend is increasingly towards helmet neutrality.

Tangled Metal wrote:My view is to develop cycling safety in our son to minimise risk of a serious accident and awareness.


The principle risk cycling is the same as that for being a pedestrian: don't collide with moving motor vehicles. Once you've sorted that, which is what you do and not what you wear, that's a lot of the bases covered. There is the issue that you can crash at speeds much faster than you could run, but I don't think there's much to suggest this is particularly productive of head injury compared to e.g. falling out of trees and off climbing frames etc.

I did have some pre-law Australian data on hours between hospital admissions for various activities. Can't find it, I'm afraid, but cycling was well down from e.g. soccer and netball.

Helmet wearing is primarily based on culture and perceived risk. In the UK Cycling is widely seen as Terribly Dangerous and Worrying, and the response is a helmet. In NL the same cycling is seen as normal everyday stuff and not particularly worrying, and the response is whatever you want to wear as it doesn't really matter. The danger in the UK is considerably greater because of the traffic, but traffic is well beyond the capabilities of an EN1078 lid so that's not actually that relevant.

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Jdsk
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Re: Evidence in childhood helmet wearing

Postby Jdsk » 15 Jul 2020, 1:47pm

Tangled Metal wrote:AIUI there was considered some evidence suggesting young children are safer with helmets. Such that there's good reason to encourage it. Is this true now?

There was something in 2009 from the then College of Emergency Medicine and the Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine "calling on the Government" to mandate wearing by under 16s. I wrote to them both recently and TTBOMK it was only ever a resolution at a conference and there isn't any supporting documentation.

Jonathan

Tangled Metal
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Re: Evidence in childhood helmet wearing

Postby Tangled Metal » 15 Jul 2020, 3:25pm

Jdsk wrote:
Tangled Metal wrote:AIUI there was considered some evidence suggesting young children are safer with helmets. Such that there's good reason to encourage it. Is this true now?

There was something in 2009 from the then College of Emergency Medicine and the Association of Paediatric Emergency Medicine "calling on the Government" to mandate wearing by under 16s. I wrote to them both recently and TTBOMK it was only ever a resolution at a conference and there isn't any supporting documentation.

Jonathan

I think I read something about that on a forum before, possibly not this one. I knew there was something from a paediatric/ medical side. I thought there was a research paper or summary of existing evidence published somewhere by a relevant medical institution/ body.

I must admit I've really not read much about helmet use for quite some time but my vague memory of what I read about when looking was that there's no evidence for adults but some indicating for younger children there is a balance of evidence indicating an advantage and reason for them wearing one.

Whatever the case I doubt it'll make much difference. Like everyone else our son wears a helmet when he's feels there's a risk needing it. So far that's mountain biking only. Also school based cycling activities because that's mandated. If we ever get round to him joining Lancaster cogset cycling group we'll probably have to make sure he wears one there. Probably a liability insurance requirement.

When I grew up a couple of mates took a tumble at different times but close together. One face planted when he hit something and took a flier I over his bars. The other took a bend on a steep hill and hit a large rock and landed head in the grass near the hedge and body on the tarmac battered up a bit. We all started helmet wearing for a bit. I soon stopped.

I grew up cycling, my sister and dad did too. No helmet use and no accidents. I've seen others come a cropper but I've not even come close. Complacency? No just I'm cautious and careful. Also there's a lot for awareness skills. Plus being able to ride when less busy or quieter places. I personally don't see PPE as having the most important role in a cyclist's safety. Never have thought that.

I'm also sick of being told off by ignorant over helmet use. Head teacher told me off because he once saw us cycling near the school without helmets, a canal towpath I think it was if not quiet, dead end back streets. The truth we didnt have a helmet for him because he took it to cycling classes at three school and came home without it. The school then lost it despite having found it left behind. Still it's easy to criticize when non helmet wearing is so visible. Even some kids wear them on scooters!!

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pjclinch
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Re: Evidence in childhood helmet wearing

Postby pjclinch » 15 Jul 2020, 3:57pm

It's worth noting that the design spec is for low energy falls with no other vehicle involved. In terms of brain-shaking, skull cracking energy that is generally the vertical component (because that's the direction that you tend to stop in very quickly; obviously excepting walls, large trees etc. horizontal speed tends to get scrubbed off more gradually and it's losing skin rather than neurons or snapping bones (not that losing skin is any fun, but that goes for things other than your head as well).

And the vertical component of a fall from a bike will typically be the same as that from feet, for an adult about 12 mph from gravity (why helmets are tested at 12 mph impacts), so if you're not too worried about a fractured skull or some traumatic brain injury in the playground you probably don't need to worry too much about it cycling.

The factoid rolled out by various LAs in Scotland to justify mandatory helmets in Bikeability Scotland is children have thinner and thus more breakable bones than adults. And that's it. It's true, but they have less energy in a fall to break them, and the falls they have without bikes tend not to break their heads: what is being done is rationalising "what everyone knows" which is kids are "obviously" safer in helmets and "obviously" in danger without them.

They do fall and will hit their heads... my daughter had blurred vision for a couple of days after one of her brother's pals over-spun her on a roundabout, she got off, staggered off the safety matting before falling and whacked her head. Had that been on a bike we'd have had endless grief about helmets, as it was it was simply "well, it happens" along with the standard TLC.

Meanwhile, over in NL...
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