Extreme Sports Call For Extreme Safety

Cullen Jones helps teach a girl how to swim.
More than 1.5 million kids are treated each year for injuries from biking and other wheel-related activities. Many are serious head injuries that could have been avoided by wearing a helmet.

Early Show Medical Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay tells viewers of the importance of wearing helmets and how parents can convince children to wear them.

Skateboards, in-line skates and scooters are all gaining in popularity among kids these days. A lot of kids are taking them to extremes of speed and daring. These are activities equally dangerous to bike riding.

A recent study found that almost half of hospitalizations for bike injuries resulted in traumatic brain injury which can damage the ability to walk, talk and think for a lifetime.

"The problem is that not many kids are wearing protective safety helmets," said Dr. Senay.

A new survey by the National Safe Kids Campaign shows that although more than 1/3 of kids realize that brain injury can occur as a result of a wheel-related crash, 65 percent knew that an injury to the brain can last a lifetime. Only less than half said they wear a helmet on every ride.

The reasons for not wearing a helmet, says Dr. Senay, is that a child may think a helmet is uncomfortable, they feel like they're in control because they're older, lack of parental discipline or kids just think it's not cool to wear a helmet.

Convincing a Child To Wear Helmets

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, kids are more likely to wear a helmet if their parents and peers also wear them. They would also wear helmets more often if they were instructed by a parent or teachers on the importance of a helmet for safety.

"Also, a child is much more likely to wear a helmet that he or she has picked out, so it might be worth spending a little extra to get the one they think is really cool," said Dr. Senay.

Different Helmets

Different helmets are marketed for different sports, but there are no regulations currently in place for different uses. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that a CPSC approved bike safety helmet can be used for other wheeled sports.

"You need to make sure the helmet fits properly," explained Dr. Senay. "It's worn correctly using a chin strap and that it's approved for use by the CBSC."

There are other protective items in addition to a helmet for skateboarding and in-line skating. Gloves and wrist guards are helpful and there is also padding for hips, knees and elbows. Slip-resistant shoes are available to help prevent falling off a skateboard.