Skull Study Proves Bike Helmets Work
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 everywhere.
“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 four pounds.
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