New research on the use of helmets and protective equipment

October 24, 2002

Over the past three and a half years, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Philadelphia has distributed safety helmets to children of West Philadelphia through two avenues. Children brought to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for a bicycle-related injury (or other wheeled-vehicle-related injury such as rollerblades- or scooter-related) are identified, educated on the effectiveness of helmets and safe riding behaviors, and provided with a fitted helmet. Recently, this program, called Helmets for High Risk Riders, has expanded to provide an even more effective system of identifying and intervening with eligible children by involving nurses as educators and helmet providers. Since 2000, over 400 children injured while riding a bicycle, scooter, or rollerblades have received a helmet before going home through Helmets for High Risk Riders.

IFCK Philadelphia also works to provide helmets for West Philadelphia children at events like health fairs, bicycle rodeos, and block parties set up with collaborating community groups. IFCK Philadelphia has educated large numbers of children and parents on bicycle safety at these events. This summer, two IFCK Philadelphia interns created Bicycle Safety Showdown, a quiz show-type game that taught nearly 1,000 kids the basics of safe bicycling in a city. The children then received the means to be safe through the provision of individually fitted helmets from IFCK Philadelphia. Occasions like these are helpful in creating an atmosphere where more children can embrace the idea that being safe and wearing a helmet is cool. IFCK Philadelphia aims to spread this atmosphere throughout the neighborhoods of West Philadelphia via its interventions and make it a permanent feature of the community.

Currently, IFCK Philadelphia is moving to evaluate the effects of its bicycle safety programs on helmet use and bicycle-related injuries. Using hospital records, IFCK Philadelphia will evaluate the incidence rate of bicycle-related injuries before and after the initiation of its helmet promotion campaign. Analysis of pre- and post-hospital surveys and community observational studies will examine the rate of helmet use among West Philadelphia children and reveal any changes in this rate after injury and education.

In addition, IFCK Philadelphia has revised its pre- and post-hospital surveys to study the helmet and protective equipment practices and perceptions of children and parents better. The aim of this case-control study, using helmeted children as cases and unhelmeted children as controls, is to understand the reasons why children do and do not wear safety equipment and explore any differences in habits and perceptions among injured and uninjured children. The results of the study will aid IFCK Philadelphia in the reevaluation and modification of its helmet promotion strategies.


For more information on this project or other IFCK Philadelphia helmet safety initiatives, please contact David Holtzman at < a href="">, or 215-590-4010.