A photo from the Facebook page PediMom is going viral this week for reminding kids — and parents — everywhere just how important wearing a helmet is when riding a bike. And chances are, it's an image you won't be able to shake any time soon.
The image shows a children's bike helmet so torn to pieces from an accident, it's virtually unrecognizable.
"I see children in my Pediatric ER for head trauma after falling from a bike very often," reads the caption, which was penned by PediMom founder and pediatrician Dr. Free N. Hess. "Some of these children are struck by cars but many sustain head injuries simply from losing control of their bikes while riding. Helmets in this situation can make the difference between a simple concussion and severe neurological injury and even death."
One look at that bike helmet — which is practically torn to smithereens as it sits in the hands of the doctor — and it's no surprise the accident was a serious one.
But as Hess writes, "imagine this blow being taken by a child's head WITHOUT the protection of a helmet."
Yep. That puts things a bit more into perspective, doesn't it?
And yet, when you look at the stats, it's alarming just how many children don't wear helmets.
In fact, Hess cites a recent poll conducted by the University of Michigan in which 18 percent of parents admit that their children don't wear helmets. If that number doesn't seem that big, consider this: That's 1 in 5.
"This does not make sense to me," Hess wrote. And so, she issues this urgent plea to people everywhere: "If you or a child is riding a bike, skateboard, ice skates, roller skates, hover boards, scooter, or anything else that has a risk of head trauma, you need to have a helmet on. EVERY TIME."
Got that? Not just sometimes or for part of the bike ride.Every time.
Parents across Facebook were quick to jump in and echo Hess's warning.
"Thank you for sharing this!" wrote one woman. "I am a strong advocate of everyone wearing a helmet and it makes me so upset when I see children without them ... I was in a serious bike accident when I was 12, before bike helmet laws in California, and had severe neurological damage, was in ICU for a week, and missed 6 months of school. This could have been avoided if I had been wearing a helmet."
"We take to many things for granted thinking they will never happen," wrote another Facebook user. "... [But] there is more regret if something bad happens. I have to say I wish I was more strict with my kids. I was lucky nothing happened to them, but it could have and that regret I would have never gotten over."
Others noted that we so often remind kids to wear helmets and somehow forget about adults.
"I wish more adults wore them," another woman added. "My kids are always commenting on grown-ups who don’t wear their helmets. My husband is a physician and an avid biker. He never rides without a helmet."
In truth, the number of adults who also forgo helmets is pretty alarming.
Millions of Americans ride bikes, but less than half actually wear protective headgear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In fact, the CDC reports that 800 bicyclists were killed on the road in 2010, and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care.
"Roughly half of these cyclists were children and adolescents under the age of 20," the government agency shares on its website. "Annually, 26,000 of these bicycle-related injuries to children and adolescents are traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency departments."
If those stats aren't reason enough to run out this very minute and buy your kid a helmet — especially before summer break begins — then we don't know what is.
This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.