Before I begin, let me be crystal clear about one thing – wear helmets. Whatever the season – whatever the fun and awesome activity, we could all use a little reminder of the many reasons a helmet is a vitally important part of healthy, active play. And there are specific helmets to use for different activities. But there is something else to consider in addition to wearing a helmet: adult supervision.
There is a vision that comes to mind every time I hear the word concussion. I honestly can’t recall exactly where I picked up this brain-searing analogy, but let me tell you, it stuck.
- Put a ball in a jar and close the lid.
- Shake the jar.
- Watch the ball go back and forth inside, hitting the walls of the jar as it goes.
- Your brain is the ball.
- Your skull is the jar.
That, in very simple terms, is essentially a concussion.
Now, wrap the jar in as many layers of material you think might protect it if it fell. Layer it up as much as you like. Now drop it on the floor – hard. Remove the protective layers and check the jar for cracks. You may be happy to see that there are none.
The outside protection you provided worked. Happy day, right? But wait a minute – that ball inside the jar…it was still batting around inside when you dropped it. The jar didn’t break, but the concussion inside it still happened.
Helmets provide life-saving head protection – that’s true, but do they prevent concussions? Kids are going to hit their heads the odd time; that’s also true. But some of those potential concussions can be prevented with adult supervision. Children don’t always have the brain development to enable them to make the best/safest decisions. They may misjudge the height or depth of something or overestimate their own ability to safely complete a task. That’s where we come in to help them manage questionable activities and decide whether a situation is safe.
Without the slightest of wavering, I am 100% in favour of helmets to prevent head injuries. It just worries me sometimes that helmets alone might provide a false sense of security for parents and care-givers that use them properly and with the best of intentions. In my experience, appropriate protective equipment coupled with good, old-fashioned parenting is the stuff that prevents injuries. For me, be aware; be there is the way to go (and don’t forget your helmet).
(P.S. Parachute Canada is our go-to site for reliable information about all things injury-related. Have a look. There’s loads of great stuff on many topics just a click away.)
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About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)