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The Center for Disease Control reports that: less than half of the millions of Americans who ride bicycles wear bicycle helmets. For example, a national survey conducted in 2001-2003 found that only 48% of children ages 5-14 years wore bicycle helmets when riding Older children were less likely to wear helmets than younger children.

In 2010 in the U.S., 800 bicyclists were killed and an estimated 515,000 sustained bicycle-related injuries that required emergency department care. Half of the injured cyclists were children under the age of 20. Ten-percent of the injured children, 26,000 of them, sustained a traumatic brain injuries.

As a bicycle helmet proponent, I want to remind all bicyclists to wear your helmets. Parents, set the example for your children.

Over 10 years ago, I was one of those adults who never wore a helmet, until the day I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as I rode my bike on K32, between Bonner Springs and Edwardsville.

An accident can happen in a few seconds, however the damage to my brain lasted for a long time. Common words disappeared from my memory. I had difficulty with proper sentence construction. Severe headaches were frequent.

A TBI is the wound that no one can see. I was one of the fortunate to recover. I eventually regained my memory and about 99% of my vocabulary.

If you live in Kansas City, and your child receives a head injury and loses consciousness, even for a second, be sure you receive care and assessment from Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital. They have an excellent head trauma program. My niece received excellent care and rehabilitation there following a head trauma from an accident in which a school room partition knocked her unconscious.

On our street, we are known as the Helmet House. We always have extra bike helmets for children who we find are not wearing their helmets or who have outgrown their old he;lmet. .

One of the 11-year old boys on our street skipped a helmet one day this past Spring and of course, he fell. Fortunately he only received some cuts and scrapes, but now we never see him without his helmet.

If your or your child received a head injury recently, you need to know how to recognize the symptoms of TBI and to visit a doctor if one has experienced a blow or jolt to the head. Some common symptoms associated with TBI are forgetfulness, problems concentrating, low-grade headaches that won’t go away, loss of balance, and lack of energy.

Even though the kids are heading back to school soon, there’s many more beautiful months of bike riding ahead. Protect yourself and your children. Wear a helmet!