As a family physician in the North Texas town of Jacksboro, Shivum Agarwal, MD, not only sees patients at his office and the emergency department (ED), he also helps keep them safe through the Texas Medical Association’s Hard Hats for Little Heads program.
“As a rural family physician, my work bridges the office setting and public health arena daily,” said Dr. Agarwal. “The most important thing to me is that I am doing what I can to make a dent in the childhood injury statistics, which is a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in young people worldwide.”
Dr. Agarwal got involved with Hard Hats last year to help prevent the increasing injuries with local kids he’d been seeing by giving helmets one child at a time in the health care setting. With no bike shops or sporting goods stores in the town northwest of Fort Worth, Dr. Agarwal’s office is one of the few places where children can receive a bicycle helmet.
The practice takes advantage of the captive audience it has during well-child checks. Dr. Agarwal said the process is efficient, without the additional time or costs needed to organize a large giveaway event with fittings. In fact, this in-office method hasn’t altered his workflow or added more than a couple minutes to a well-check.
When children come in for a visit, they are asked if they own and use a helmet. If a child doesn’t have one, Dr. Agarwal or other office staff fit the helmet and talk about proper and regular use. Dr. Agarwal says the helmet is a nice part of the built-in teaching, and the kids love it.
“From my perspective, it says: ‘I am going beyond the mandated checklists and taking a sincere interest in getting your child to adulthood successfully and safely.’”
When he’s on a shift in the ED, the process is similar.
“In particular, I try to target the daredevils who come in with fractures and lacerations, and ensure they walk out with a helmet along with their splint or sutures and discharge packet,” said Dr. Agarwal.
And he speaks from experience, because his own children have averted injuries thanks to helmets. Dr. Agarwal encourages other physicians to incorporate this safety measure into their practices, whether that’s an office, a health clinic, or an emergency setting.
Any family physician in Texas can receive up to 50 helmets at no cost, thanks to a gift from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. The organization pays for 25 helmets for any physician, and TMA matches that.
The Texas College of Emergency Physicians and the Texas Pediatric Society offer the same benefit for their members. Other physicians can purchase helmets for TMA’s low price of $7.85 each, including shipping. Those physicians also can receive a match from TMA. Educational materials also are available.
To receive an order packet, email Tammy Wishard, TMA outreach coordinator, or call her at (512) 370-1470.
Hard Hats for Little Heads is supported in 2020 with a grant from the TMA Foundation.