Brain Injury Prevention – Helmets
Prevention is the best strategy to protect against brain and spinal cord injury. Accidents happen every day but with the appropriate safety equipment and application of safe practices, one can significantly reduce the risk of long-term injury.
A helmet provides insulation for the skull and absorbs the force of impact to the head. It is important to choose the appropriate helmet for each activity, to fit the helmet properly, and to attain a CSA certified helmet.
1. Choosing the right helmet
All helmets serve specific purposes and it is important to use the right helmet for the applied activity. For example, cycling helmets are designed to protect the head from impact on the front and sides of the head rather than the back, because most cycling accidents don’t affect this region.
NOTE! A cycling helmet is not recommended for skateboarding because skateboard accidents can cause trauma to any surface of the head.
Helmets are separated by impacts: some are for single impact and some are for multiple impacts. The single impact helmets (e.g. cycling helmets) should be replaced after ONE crash. The multiple-impact helmets (e.g. Hockey helmets) can withstand multiple smaller impacts before it needs to be replaced.
2. Helmet Fitting
A proper fitted helmet could mean the difference between life and death. The 2-v-1 rule is a simple and effective technique in gauging the appropriate helmet fit.
The Helmet should fit comfortably and snug on the head.
- The front of the helmet should sit two (2) fingers above the brow line. (For Adults: use one finger)
- The straps should make a V-shape below each ear.
- One (1) finger should be able to fit snuggly between the chin and the helmet buckle. (It should be loose enough that it does not pinch the chin and tight enough that the buckle touches the chin.)
3. Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Certification
It is recommended that helmets are up to CSA standards. Helmets that are certified by CSA are third-party tested. They are proven safe for the activity for which it is specified. Wear and use helmets as instructed by the manufacturer.
- Helmets with Expanded Poly-Styrene liners should be replaced after 5 years of use – or after a single crash.
- To ensure that a helmet can absorb the shock of a crash, the crushable liner should be between 1.5cm -3.0 cm in thickness.
- Helmets are also designed according to the most common or likely impact risk for a given activity.
- For example, bike helmets are designed mainly to absorb impacts to the top part of the head from all directions, since impacts to the back of the head are rare in cycling-related crashes.
- That’s why bike helmets may not be appropriate for skateboarding, where injuries to the back of the head due to backwards falls, are more common. Skateboarding helmets (as well as ski and snowboarding helmets) cover more of the back of the head.
SMOOTH OUTER SHELL
- outer shell works to keep the shape of the helmet
- to distribute impact energy across the helmet
- to protect against sharp objects penetrating the inner foam
- help the helmet skid across the ground
- The impact absorbing material, often an inner foam, is the main protective feature of single-impact helmets
- Is designed to “break” so your skull doesn’t have to! During a crash, when your helmeted head hits something hard like the sidewalk, a tree, or the ice, your head continues moving into the helmet through the force of its own mass, and crushes the stiff foam on the inside of the helmet
- As it compresses, the foam absorbs the force of the impact (it does not bounce back) and lessens the amount of force absorbed by your head itself. This is why single-impact helmets, like bike helmets, should be replaced after ONE crash.
- The strap system keeps the helmet firmly in place.
- Straps should always be comfortably tight. Loose straps allow the helmet to shift out of position during a fall and expose your skull to the sidewalk or curb, rocks, glass, ice or other dangerous objects.
- Single impact helmets should be replaced after one crash
- Helmets with Expanded Poly-Styrene should be replaced after every 5 years.
- Make sure that the helmets are snug and sport appropriate (refer to the manufacturer).
Learn about Helmet types for Different sports at:
The Don’ts of Helmets
Don’t Apply stickers, tape or paint to helmets because it can hide cracks in the helmets. If the helmet has any cracks or dents it should be replaced.
Don’t leave the helmets outside because they can be damaged by the fluctuating temperature and weather.
Don’t toss the helmets on the ground because that is an impact. Biking helmets must be replaced after one impact. Multi-purpose helmets can sustain a few more impacts. Please read the manufactures guide for more information on expiry date and recommendations.
Check list for Helmets & Bikes
1. Helmet is CSA Approved
Click the link below to see the CSA approved marks and labels for North America:
2. Helmet is snug and follows the 2-V-1 rule. For more information scroll to the top of the page.
1. No Sandals or open-toed shoes
2. Shoe laces tied and pant legs fastened
3. Rack or backpack to carry things
1. Right frame size for height (2 feet flat on ground with room to spare when straddling top tube)
2. Right height of seat and handle bar; biker should feel comfortable in rest position.
3. Safety equipment on bike i.e. bell.
4. ABC Check
A – Air, sufficient air in bike tires. Tires should be inflated to the rated pressure indicated on the sidewall of tires. Replaced damaged tires (damaged treads and damaged sidewall)
B – Brakes, Two working brakes (Front Brake and Back Brakes). Inspect the brake pads for wear; replace is there is less than ¼” of pad left. The brake pads should not rub tire or dive into spokes.
C – Crank and Chain. The crank bolts should be tight and the threads should be oiled. Check for damage in the chain.
Off-Road & ATV Check
For additional information about helmets and injury prevention for OFF ROAD VEHICLES please check out these links: