Is Your Child Wearing a Helmet This Summer? Kasey is Glad He Did!
Kasey with nurse Kelly after his school’s bicycle safety assembly.
It was a sunny day in August of 2009 as 6-year-old Kasey biked home from his third day of school. Kasey’s route home was through the school’s construction zone, so one of his parents accompanied him each day to ensure he arrived home safely. That day, Kasey’s father Kent was following Kasey in his car and was horrified to watch as Kasey lost control of his bike as he swerved around a construction vehicle. Kasey was propelled over the handlebars and landed on his back on the asphalt. Kent jumped out of his vehicle to check on Kasey, who seemed fine. Thankfully, Kasey was wearing a helmet.
Once they got home, Kasey started acting lethargic and complained of stomach pains. He even lay down on the couch and said he wanted to go to sleep, highly unusual behavior for this energetic little boy. To be on the safe side, Kasey’s mom Debbie took him to Dell Children’s Medical Center. The Trauma Service staff determined that Kasey had injured one of his kidneys. Doctors told Debbie that if Kasey had not been wearing a helmet, he could have sustained a serious head injury and would probably not be the same boy as he was before the accident.
Kasey suffered from abdominal pain due to a serious laceration to his kidney. His injuries required close monitoring in the hospital for the next several days. Once he was released from Dell Children’s, Kasey spent a week on bed rest (quite a challenge for a 6-year-old), and then was able to return to school, although he was restricted from P.E. for three months. He was also seen in the Trauma Clinic as an outpatient until his abdominal pain ended and testing showed that he had a completely healed kidney. After his recovery, Kasey was determined to keep riding his bike and to stay healthy and fit. He has since participated in 4 kid triathlons!
During Kasey’s treatment, Debbie was particularly impressed with Kasey’s Nurse Practitioner, Kelly. “Kelly was so personable and sweet with Kasey. They really formed a bond during his stay at Dell Children’s. In fact, to show Kasey how proud she was of him for wearing a helmet, Kelly presented him with a new helmet with blinking lights. Even though Kasey couldn’t wear the helmet for a few months after the incident, he displayed it in his room as a reminder of how proud Kelly was of him”, says Debbie.
As a result of his accident, Kasey has become an advocate for bike safety. When Kasey sees someone without a helmet, he asks his mom if he can talk to them about helmet safety. Kasey even spearheaded a recent school assembly of more than 700 students about helmet safety and invited his favorite nurse, Kelly, to speak. He also raised $300 and partnered with community organizations to purchase helmets to distribute at the assembly. View the helmet safety handouts Kasey and his family provided at the assembly: handout #1 and handout #2.
Did You Know?
- National estimates report that bicycle helmet use among child bicyclists ranges from 15 percent to 25 percent (Rodgers GB. Bicycle helmet use patterns among children. Pediatrics 1996; 97:166-73.)
- Among the 44 bicycle related admissions to Dell Children’s Medical Center in 2009, 75% of the pediatric patients were not wearing a helmet (Dell Children’s Trauma Service Annual Report, 2009)
Top Bike Safety Tips (Safe Kids USA 2011)
- Make it a rule: Every time you and your child ride a bike, wear a bicycle helmet that meets the safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. If your child is reluctant to wear a helmet, try letting him or her choose his own.
- Helmet fit is important: Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled but not too tightly.
- Proper equipment fit and maintenance are also important for safety: Ensure proper bike fit by bringing the child along when shopping for a bike. Buy a bicycle that is the right size for the child, not one he will grow into. When sitting on the seat, the child’s feet should be able to touch the ground. Make sure the reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.