OBJECTIVE: To determine the characteristics and the severity of head and facial injuries to helmeted child bicyclists, and whether the helmet contributed to the injury, and to study factors related to bicycle accidents. DESIGN: Retrospective review of two case series. Children sustaining head injury while not wearing helmets were studied as a form of reference group. SETTING: Large paediatric teaching hospital. SUBJECTS: 34 helmeted child bicyclists and 155 non-helmeted bicyclists, aged 5-14 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of injuries, type of injuries, injury severity score, deaths, and accident circumstances. RESULTS: 79% of the head injuries of the helmeted child group were mild and two thirds of these had facial injuries. Children in the helmet group were in a greater proportion of bike-car collisions than the no helmet group and at least 15% of the helmets were lost on impact. There were no injuries secondary to the helmet. CONCLUSIONS: Most of the head injuries sustained by the helmeted children were of mild severity and there was no evidence to suggest that the helmet contributed to injury. Nevertheless, consideration should be given to designing a facial protector for the bicycle helmet and to improvement of the fastening device.
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