Case Study: Helmet Saves a Life
- Airway: Patient able to vocalize, no obstruction noted. The bike helmet was intact but dented. EMS stabilized his spine, removed the helmet per protocol and applied a rigid collar.
- Breathing: Respiratory rate 16, nonlabored
- Circulation: Pulses strong bilaterally, BP 128/72
- Disability: Glasgow Coma Score (GCS): Eye opening-spontaneous = 4, Verbal response-confused = 4, Motor response-follows commands = 6, total is GCS 14. Patient remains confused en route to the hospital.
On arrival to the emergency department, he is not as confused, but remains amnesic to the event. Primary survey does not change. Secondary survey reveals several areas of abrasions and contusions, but no gross deformities of any long bones.
Due to the loss of consciousness, a CT of his head was obtained that was NORMAL. He had C-spine tenderness but films were negative. He was maintained in a collar. His abdomen remained tender and a CT was obtained that showed a small spleen laceration. He remained hemodynamically stable. His right wrist had a non-displaced fracture that was casted. No other fractures were noted.
Both of these stories would have much different outcomes if not for the use of helmets. Abrasions, contusions, fractures and even spleen injuries can heal, but head injuries can cause permanent disabilities.
According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, 75% of bicycle related deaths among children could be prevented with a bike helmet. They recommend that the helmet bears a CPSC (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) label.
Helmets need to fit correctly: they should be snug, but not too tight, and should not rock back and forth or side to side. The helmet needs to be centered on the top of the head. People who wear their helmets tipped back have a 52% greater risk of head injury.