Bicyclists are at risk for serious injuries in any Fort Myers motor vehicle crash because there is very little to protect them from impact. While helmets help prevent traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries and internal organ damage are still extremely common.
To help address injury concerns, researchers from the Foothills Medical Centre in Canada are recommending bicyclist wear body armor, such as chest protection. In their study, which was recently published in the Canadian Journal of Surgery, the researchers argue that risk factors and injury patterns suggest the need for greater protection.
“Trauma to the head is still the No. 1 injury in both cycling groups, which underscores the importance of wearing a good-quality, properly fitted helmet,” said lead author, Dr. Chad Ball. “At the same time, almost half of the injuries we noted were either to the chest or abdomen, suggesting that greater physical protection in those areas could also help reduce or prevent serious injury.”
While many bicyclists may balk at the idea of getting “suited up” before hopping on their bikes, the risk of injury may warrant such extreme measures, particularly in Florida. As we have previously discussed on this Florida Injury Blog, our state reported more bicycle deaths than any other state in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In total, 7,282 children ages 5 to 14 were killed or required hospital treatment for injuries due to cycling crashes, according to the Florida Department of Health's Vital Statistics and Agency for Health Care Administration.
Until body armor becomes widely available, your best protection is a well-fitting bicycle helmet. Below are a few tips from the Mayo Clinic to make sure your helmet does its job:
- Make sure the helmet is safe. Look for a seal of approval from organizations such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or Snell Memorial Foundation.
- Make sure the helmet fits. You shouldn't be able to move the bicycle helmet more than one inch in any direction, front to back or side-to-side. The sizing pads included with every bicycle helmet can help make the fit more secure.
- Make sure you are wearing the helmet properly. Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head. You should also be sure to fasten the chinstrap below your chin — not to the side or along your jaw.
- Make sure the helmet does not restrict your visibility. If the bicycle helmet straps block your vision — even a little bit — choose another helmet. Likewise, make sure motorists and other cyclists can see you. Choose a white or brightly colored helmet. Some helmets even come with lights.