Lois K. Lee, M.D., M.P.H., from Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues note that helmet use can reduce the risk for fatal and nonfatal head injury, including severe traumatic brain injury and facial injuries, but helmets are not worn consistently. They discussed the best practices to guide clinicians, public health advocates, and policymakers for increasing helmet use in recreational sports.
The authors note that a multipronged approach is needed to increase helmet use by children participating in recreational sports. Children and youth and their adult caregivers should always wear an appropriate and correctly fitting sport helmet; helmet types should match the sport for which they are designed. Parents and patients should be informed of the importance of wearing helmets by pediatric clinicians in primary care, emergency, and tertiary care settings. The lay public should be educated regarding the effectiveness of helmets in reducing the risk for head injury; this can be accomplished through public health advertising campaigns. Other approaches include advocacy, emphasizing more comprehensive and consistent legislation and regulation regarding helmet use; enforcement such as issuing tickets for helmet legislation noncompliance; and development of helmet promotion programs, which could be implemented in school, community, or health care settings.
“The evidence is clear: helmets save lives and significantly reduce the risks of severe injury,” Lee said in a statement. “And yet sports-related injuries make up a substantial proportion of all traumatic brain injuries.”