EMSTAR promotes helmet safety

WHEELING, W.Va. According to the Center for Disease Control, children and adolescents have the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries, accounting for almost 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries seen in U.S. emergency departments. Locally, Ohio Valley Medical Center and East Ohio Regional Hospital are taking steps to help reduce these bicycle-related injuries among children.

Physicians and staff at the hospital’s emergency rooms, EMSTAR, encourage helmet safety for children both at the hospital and in the community.

“The choice to wear a helmet while bicycling or skating could make a life-saving difference for a child,” said Dr. Christopher Gooch, emergency medicine physician at EMSTAR. “Teaching children today the proper ways to wear a helmet could protect them for many years to come.”

Through education outreach initiatives, EMSTAR representatives visit local elementary schools to educate about the importance of helmet safety. Carol Eddy, EMSTAR nurse and outreach coordinator who gives the interactive presentation, said she sees the largest increase of ER visits among children eight to 12 because of bicycle or skating-related injuries.

“It is important for children to learn the proper ways to wear the helmets in order for them to be proactive for their own safety,” said Eddy. “Most injuries occur when the rider loses control and falls over the handlebars. These accidents result in wounds, broken bones, and sometimes head injuries.”

EMSTAR physicians and staff encourage children to wear a helmet when riding bikes, skating, or any other activity when their heads are most vulnerable to injury in

order to protect against brain injury or serious trauma. Brain injury incurred today could affect the rest of their lives, as most brain damage is permanent.

To help protect area youth, EMSTAR health professionals give a free helmet to each child who has been treated for bicycle-related injuries in their emergency rooms.

“We observed that most of these patients were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accident, so our hope is this new helmet, when worn properly, will help protect them in future events,” said Eddy.

Reinforcing the importance of helmet safety, EMSTAR staff provide a “Promise Card” as a reminder to the patient and his or her family of their commitment to protect the child from serious head injury by wearing a helmet.

Ohio Valley Medical Center, located in Wheeling, W. Va., and East Ohio Regional Hospital, located in Martins Ferry, Ohio, are a 340-bed combined organization with more than 1,600 employees providing the area’s only comprehensive orthopedic centers of excellence, behavioral and mental health services and board certified emergency services on both sides of the Ohio River. We are the Ohio Valley’s community hospitals.