Brain Injury Talking Points

Injuries resulting from bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and inline and roller skates account for more than 500,000 emergency room visits for children younger than 14 years.

Bicycle/Helmet Facts

  • More than 70 percent of children ages 5 years to 14 years ride bicycles. National estimates report only 15 percent to 25 percent of these child cyclists wear helmets.
  • Bikes are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product, except the automobile.
  • Each year, the estimated number of bicycling head injuries requiring hospitalization exceeds the combined total head injury cases related to baseball, football, skateboards, kick scooters, horseback riding, snowboarding, ice hockey, inline skating, and lacrosse.
  • Head injury is the most common cause of serious disability and death in bicycle crashes.
  • Children ages 10 to 14 years are most at risk for a traumatic brain injury because of low helmet use in this age group. Only 11 percent of these kids are estimated to use helmets.
  • Children and adolescents make up more than 20 percent of all bicycle-related deaths and nearly 60 percent of bicycle-related injuries.
  • On average, some 250 children in the United States younger than 14 years die annually in bike crashes, while nearly 300,000 are treated in the emergency room.
  • In 2005, children under 15 years of age accounted for 53 percent of bicycle injuries treated in emergency departments.
  • In 2008, 107 bicyclists under 15 years of age were killed and 12,000 were injured.
  • Head injuries account for more than 60 percent of bicycle-related deaths, more than two-thirds of bicycle-related hospital admissions, and about one-third of hospital emergency room visits for bicycling injuries.
  • Direct costs of cyclists' injuries are estimated at $81 million, and indirect costs are estimated at $2.3 billion.

Benefits of Helmet Use

  • A properly worn bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
  • Bicycle helmets also protect the forehead and midface in crashes.
  • A helmet is estimated to prevent about 75 percent of fatal head injuries among child bicyclists.
  • Universal use of bike helmets could prevent between 135 and 155 deaths, and between 39,000 and 45,000 head injuries in children ages 4 years to 15 years. In addition, some 18,000 to 55,000 injuries to the face and scalp could be prevented.
  • Every $1 spent on a bike helmet saves $30 in direct medical and other costs to society.
  • A child wearing a poorly fitting helmet is twice as likely to suffer a head injury as one wearing a properly fitting helmet.
  • Kids who wear their helmets tipped back on their heads have a 52 percent greater risk of head injury than kids who center their helmets on their heads.
  • Nonhelmeted riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than helmeted riders.

Traumatic Brain Injury in Texas (based on a 2010 study)

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) cost Texans $6.8 billion annually in deaths, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and disability.
  • TBI prompts 119,500 emergency room visits each year in Texas, at an annual cost of $740 million.
  • TBI results in 22,000 hospitalizations annually in Texas, at a cost of $623 million.
  • About 4,000 Texans die each year as a result of a brain injury.
  • The two leading causes of TBI are falls and traffic crashes. A TBI is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts brain function. produces a diminished or altered state of consciousness, impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning, or both. 

Inline Skating Facts

  • In 2002, nearly 36,300 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for inline skating-related injuries, and an estimated 28,400 were treated for roller skating-related injuries.
  • Since 1992, at least 87 children ages 14 and under have died from inline skating injuries; the majority were from collisions with motor vehicles.
  • Skaters instinctively extend their arms to prevent head impact; however, skaters commonly reach speeds of 10 to 17 mph or more. At high speed, arm strength is insufficient to prevent the head from hitting the ground.
  • An estimated one-third of accidents could be prevented with the use of wrist guards.

Skateboard/Scooter Facts

  • Skateboard-related injuries account for an estimated 50,000 emergency department visits and 1,500 hospitalizations among children and adolescents in the United States each year.
  • Six out of 10 skateboarding injuries occur among children ages 14 and under.
  • In 2002, nearly 51,300 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for nonpowered scooter-related injuries. Children ages 5 to 14 accounted for nearly 75 percent of these injuries.

Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, Children's Safety Network, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Safe Kids USA, Snell Memorial Foundation, and American Academy of Pediatrics  


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