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Most bicycle helmet studies have examined either the helmets or the injuries to riders to measure helmet effectiveness. A new study used actual human skulls to confirm that these devices do indeed offer protection. Researchers from the University of Illinois dropped helmeted skulls onto a metal anvil; the skulls, using four different helmets, were filled with water to reach the equivalent weight of a child’s head. Helmets offered protection in falls from as high as three feet; they were not tested at greater heights. Unhelmeted skulls, not surprisingly, did not perform well. American Association of Neurological Surgeons [abstract], April 25, 2006.

Another approach to analyzing children’s active injuries was taken by researchers who videotaped them falling while ice skating and inline skating at indoor rinks. More than 70% of the inline skating falls were to children aged 6 years or younger, but only 15% of ice skating falls occurred to children in that age group. More children fell forward than backward, and more than 90% of skaters attempted to “break” their falls using …

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