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Summer is the quintessential season for heading outdoors, soaking up the sun and fresh air, and getting active. While children are typically more active than adults during the summer season, both children and adults are at risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury while engaging in a summer activity. Here are some tips for preventing a brain injury during your favorite summer activities:
Swimming & Water Sports
Summer wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach or pool and it’s a great way to cool off and relax at the peak of summer, but it’s also a potentially dangerous season for brain and head injuries. According to the most recent data available on brain or head injuries released from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 28,716 head injuries occurred in 2009 during a water sport (diving, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, water polo, water skiing, and water tubing. One of the best ways to avoid a head injury while participating in a water sport is to be careful and responsible about diving. Here are some tips to avoid an injury while diving:
- Always enter the water feet first.
- Never dive into the shallow end of a pool or before checking for objects beneath the water’s surface.
- Avoid alcohol when you’re participating in any water sport.
- Know how to avoid and get out of a rip current.
Experts also recommend that individuals wear a safety helmet when wakeboarding, kayaking, or when river rafting.
Bicycling, Skating, & Skateboarding
According to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, safety helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88%. Both children and adults should wear a helmet when participating in any wheeled sports like bicycling, in-line/roller skating, scootering and skateboarding. Even the most skilled and experienced individuals are at risk for falling and hitting his or her head on or against a hard surface or be struck by a car.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that each year about 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths are bicyclists and head/brain injuries were responsible for the majority of deaths. The best way to avoid a serious brain injury while riding a bicycle is to simply wear a bicycle helmet, regardless if you’re just riding around your neighborhood, on a trail free from motorists, or on the roadways. There are no federal laws in the U.S. requiring the use of bicycle helmets, but in 22 states, bicycle helmets are required for most individuals under the age of 16. Law or not, always encourage your child to wear a helmet and be a good (and safe) role model by wearing one yourself.
Just like bicycling, motorcyclists are at risk of suffering head and brain injuries when involved in an accident. Currently, only 19 states require that motorcyclists wear a helmet, but all motorcyclists and their passengers should wear a helmet, law or not. Motorcyclists that wear a helmet have up to a 73% lower fatality rate than unhelmeted riders. Additionally, unhelmeted motorcyclists are over three times as likely to suffer a brain injury than those who were a helmet.