Bike riding is a fun activity for children. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get exercise. Unfortunately, it’s also a common way for kids to get injured.
Over 500,000 bicycle-related visits to emergency rooms occur in the United States annually. About 300,000 of these cases involve injuries to children, and about 10,000 of those cases require an overnight hospital stay. It’s important to know what level of care your child needs after sustaining injuries from a bicycle accident.
If your child has been injured in a bicycle accident, here are some things that you should do.
Take a deep breath and stay calm even if your child is crying and upset. Look them over carefully for injuries and assess the damage level. Your child may simply need reassurance from you to get riding again. A bag of ice applied to the injury can alleviate any swelling. If your child’s pain is persistent or if the injuries are significant, take your care to the next level.
Seek medical care for your child’s injury if it seems serious. It’s important to rule out significant issues like concussions, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries. Your child may also have bruising and scrapes from the accident that may require stitches. Don’t hesitate to get your child the medical help they need.
A visit to the chiropractor or physical therapist can relieve back pain, neck pain, or a misaligned spine due to the accident. They can prescribe healing exercises and therapeutic treatments to alleviate the pain and swelling.
Help Them Get Riding Again
It’s been said many times, but it’s worth repeating. Bike helmets are a must – they help save lives. Yet a national survey reported that only 48% of children between the ages of 5 and 14 years wear bicycle helmets.
Most deadly bicycle accidents occur because the person failed to wear a bike helmet. Even on short rides, bike helmets are crucial for protection.
The proper fit for a bike helmet matters, as it needs to be secure in the event of a crash. Always fasten the straps. If the straps are fastened correctly, the helmet should not shift on your head. Also, don’t ever wear a hat underneath your bike helmet, as it will affect the fit.
Be gentle when handling your bike helmet. If it is damaged, it may not offer you the protection you need in a crash. Replace your helmet if you do experience a bicycle accident. They don’t protect as effectively once they’ve gone through a crash.
Helmets are just the beginning, though. Other things to help your child get back out there include:
Pads. Elbow pads and knee pads are also helpful for children learning to ride. They will likely take a few tumbles as they are learning, but padding will cushion the blows. When a young child learns that padding and helmets are part of bicycling, they’ll be more likely to wear protective gear as they grow.
Bright colors. It’s also smart for your child to wear bright colors or light colors when riding as well, especially at dawn or dusk. Make sure their bicycles have reflective markings on the back and front to improve visibility.
Knowing bike safety rules. Make sure you review the rules of the road with your child. They must ride with the flow of traffic instead of against it. They need to obey traffic signals and signs and use hand signals. Children may need reminding to stop and look both ways several times before crossing a street on their bicycles. Some communities restrict bicycle riding to sidewalks and paths; check with your local ordinances.
Reviewing the accident. Talk with your child about what went wrong during the crash. Were they riding too fast, which caused them to lose control? Were they riding on a surface that didn’t have much traction, such as a rain-covered sidewalk or a driveway with loose gravel? Teach them smarter riding habits to keep them from making the same error again.
Positivity and encouragement. With a major injury, your child may be afraid to ride again. Stay positive and encourage your child to take it slow, perhaps practicing on flat parking lots. Some children bounce back very quickly after an accident. Pay attention to your child’s temperament, and encourage them without pushing them too hard. If you notice that your child is showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder related to the accident, don’t wait to get them the help they need.
If your child sustained a bicycle injury due to the negligence of someone else, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for the help you need.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.