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Helmets are essential for brain and head protection

Helmets may not be the most popular sports attire, but they are essential gear for many sports and activities, including: bicycling; football; baseball; softball; hockey; horseback riding; ice skating; off-road and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) driving; rugby; skiing and snowboarding.

While no one would be allowed to play football competitively without wearing a helmet, many who participate in some of the above-listed sports may choose not to wear helmets. It’s estimated that half of all children’s injuries treated in emergency rooms each year are related to sports or recreational activities.

Helmets provide vital protection for our brains, which essentially float inside our skulls surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid and a three-layered membrane system. In the case of head trauma, our brains can be slammed into the inside of our skull, causing a concussion or other more serious injury.

The purpose of helmets is to help the head slow down more gradually, spread the impact of the trauma across a larger area and prevent direct impact to the skull. To serve those purposes well, the helmet must fit properly, be worn correctly, and be in good condition. With a few multi-helmet exceptions (biking/skateboarding), most helmets are designed specifically for each sport and should not be intermixed. Many organizations recommend using the acronym SAFE as a guideline for fitting a helmet for you or a child:

S is for Size. Measure the distance around the head with a soft tape measure, just above the eyebrows and ears. Then take a look at the sizing information on the helmet to figure out which size helmet fits best. Sizes vary among manufacturers.

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