MONDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) — Experiments conducted with water-filled
human skulls confirm that bike helmets that meet U.S. standards do protect
kids from head injury.
To come up with the results, the researchers dropped helmeted skulls onto
a metal anvil, testing whether the helmets protected against fracture-inducing impact.
While the method may seem startling, the results should please parents
“We were able to objectively measure that helmets do provide a benefit,
absolutely, beyond question,” said study lead author Dr. Chris A.
Sloffer, a neurosurgical resident at the University of Illinois College
of Medicine, in Peoria.
The findings were expected to be presented Tuesday at the annual meeting
of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in San Francisco.
Sloffer and his co-author, pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Julian J. Lin, noted
that an estimated half a million Americans sought emergency treatment
for bicycle-related injuries in 2004. Head injuries accounted for 69,500
of these cases.
In the same year, 600 people died as a result of bicycle accidents, with
two-thirds of those deaths due to traumatic brain injuries.
The researchers further pointed out that children 15 and younger are the
age pool at greatest risk for bicycle injuries, accounting for 40 percent
of related deaths.
In the United States, the most recent national safety standards for bicycle
helmets were established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
in 1999. The standards were drafted to ensure that helmets do not block
rider vision, do not come off when a rider falls, and offer significant
protection upon impact with a hard surface.
Sloffer and Lin assessed these standards by testing four identical, commercially
available helmets on four human skulls. The skulls had been filled with
water to approximate the weight of a child’s head — about
The researchers dropped the skulls — bare or helmeted — from
various heights onto a metal anvil. Skulls without helmets were dropped
from a height of two feet and up until a fracture was observed.
Acceleration monitors fitted onto all the skulls compared degrees of impact
deceleration — the force the head absorbs when it’s forced
to come to a quick stop.
The researchers found that U.S. standard helmets offered the intended head-injury
impact protection in falls originati