“Shine On” with Patient Champion Alex Dean by Wearing a Helmet

Bike helmet fit

Six years ago, Alex Dean, now 14, was in a serious bicycle accident that caused significant head trauma and facial injuries. Fortunately, Alex was wearing a bike helmet.

Thanks to the protective headgear, her strength and the care she received at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Alex made a full recovery.

Alex will celebrate her life, share her experience and spread her “Shine On” theme at the 2014 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon Sunday, October 19. One of 24 Patient Champions along the race route, Alex will be at Mile 12.

“Regardless of where you are and what you may be doing outside — like riding a bike, scooter or skateboard,’’ said Alex’s mother, Jennifer Dean, “the first thing you need to do is wear your helmet. The life you save might just be your own.”

Alex’s story shows the importance of wearing protective headgear, but do you know what to look for in a helmet and when to retire it?

Bike Helmet Lifespan

The Snell Memorial Foundation recommends that a helmet be replaced every 5 years, since some of its materials may deteriorate over time. If you’re involved in an accident, however, consider replacing it sooner.

What to Look for in a New Helmet

Medical research about head injuries and helmet technology has helped to improve protective headgear. Here are some features to look for:

1. Size should be snug

A proper fit greatly decreases the risk for injury.

  • Helmet should be tight without rocking back and forth
  • It should be 1-2 finger widths above your eyebrow
  • Side and chin straps should be adjusted so they are comfortably snug
  • Look for a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission certification label

2. Visibility is vital

Select a bright color.

  • Neon helmets, also called Hi-Viz helmets, not only make a fashion statement, but they also help make cyclists more visible to motorists and pedestrians
  • Wear LED flashers on the front and back – large enough to be seen

3. Pay attention to the sides

Getting hit from the side is more likely to cause a concussion than being struck from the front or rear. As a result, increased side protection is becoming more common.

4. Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS)

MIPS technology was created by brain surgeons to help lessen concussions and brain injuries by better protecting the head against angled impacts, which is how most accidents occur.

5. Angular Impact Mitigation System (AIM)

This new technology has improved helmet liners by making them better absorb an impact through a honeycomb design.

According to a study, results predicted that AIM helmets reduced the risk of concussion by 27%.

As safety features evolve, keep your helmet up to date – it could save your life. And remember Nationwide Children’s Hospital Patient Champion Alex Dean who continues to “shine on” because she was wearing a helmet.