Break Point!

Volume 3, Issue 4 View the Archives April, 2000
Gear Up Guide to Spring Activities
Playing It Safe
Quick Answers to Bicycle Helmet Questions
Kick-Off Into Spring
One, Two, Three Strikes You're Out
Gearing Up For The Game
The Happenings
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Gear Up Guide to Spring Activities

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

Many people have a severe case of cabin fever and can't wait to get outdoors. As the weather gets warmer there is an increase in outdoor sport related injuries. This issue will look at ways to have fun in the spring weather and stay safe.

Baseball practice is starting any day now and soccer teams are in full force. Kids are dusting off their roller blades and itching to ride the new bike they got for Christmas. In observance of National Sports Safety Month, Break Point will provide tips to prepare for the increase in outdoor activities.

The warmer weather also brings children to the playground. Supervision is the key to safe play in the park. Break Point will focus on playground safety and ways to keep children safe while they play.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy O'Day with any comments or questions.

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Playing It Safe

The warmer weather sends children outdoors especially to the parks and playgrounds in their areas. Playgrounds provide children wonderful opportunities for fun and exercise only when safety is considered first.

Playgrounds are generally a safe place for children to run, climb and explore. Unfortunately, children on playgrounds sustain many serious injuries each year. Annually, there are approximately 200,000 preschool and elementary aged children injured from playground equipment. Brain injury is one of the top 10 diagnoses in emergency departments for playground-related injuries and about 15 children die each year as a result of those injuries.

Some playground equipment that's appropriate for preschoolers (2-5) is inappropriate for school aged children (5-12). The equipment is too small for bigger children and poses risks. The playground should have separate equipment for both age groups to keep the playground safe for all.

The next time you are at the playground check to see that your park upholds the safety standards the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends:

  • There should be at least 12 inches of protective surfacing around the play equipment. The best materials for this are sand, wood chips, mulch or foam cushion.
  • To cushion falls, the absorbing materials should extend a minimum of 6 feet in all directions from the equipment. For swings the distance should be twice that of the suspended bar.
  • Guardrails should be present on platforms, ramps and bridge ways to prevent falls.
  • There should be no dangerous pieces of hardware that protrude from the equipment. The "S" connectors should be closed to the metal ends to prevent strangulation hazards. Exposed hardware poses threats of cuts and punctures to children.
  • The equipment should be spaced at least 12 feet apart for children to easily pass through without coming in contact with other children or equipment.
  • Supervision is the real key to playground safety. Children need to be cautioned about potential hazards and watched to avoid risks. Even older children need supervision.

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Quick Answers to Bicycle Helmet Questions

What is the best helmet to buy?
The best helmet is the one that fits properly and the one you will use each time you ride your bike. The helmet should meet the ASTM or CPSC standards and be labeled inside the helmet.

Aren't bike helmets expensive?
You can find bike helmets at discount stores for about $10 to $30. Local bicycle shops carry the more expensive brands, which run from about $35 to $125. All helmets should meet the CPSC standards.

Is a cheap helmet as safe as the more expensive ones?
All helmets after March 1999 are required by law to meet the ASTM standard. If your money buys a helmet that fits better and is more stable in a crash, then the more expensive helmet is worth it. If you get a good fit from an inexpensive helmet, there is no need to spend more money for a name brand.

What are ASTM and CPSC standards?
They are testing standards for impact performance and strap strength. In March 1999 the requirements to meet these standards were changed and the ASTM standard requires a few millimeters more coverage to the head.

How do I know which helmet to buy for my child?
There are lots of helmets for children from ages one to five. There are no baby helmets because it is not recommended for infants to ride in bike carriers due to the instability of their spinal cords and weak neck muscles. Children's helmets come with 2-3 different thicknesses of padding to account for increasing head growth.

Do they make bike helmets for large heads?
Several manufacturers make extra large helmets, but Bell helmets make the largest, the Kinghead model, which fits heads up to 8 . If you are unable to locate the Bell Kinghead helmet, your local bicycle shop should be able to order one for you.

When I measure my head, I am between sizes which helmet do I buy?
If you are between sizes order the larger size and adjust the fit pads to establish a correct fit.

When should I replace my helmet?
After a crash, replace it. If it is more than 10 years old, replace it. If it does not meet the ASTM or CPSC standards, replace it. If you hate it, replace it.

Do bicycle helmets really work?
Bike helmets work very well as long as they are fitted securely and buckled when you crash. They can decrease the incidence of brain injuries by 88%. They spread the force of a crash and cushion the fall. The down side is that many helmet users are not securing their helmets level on the head and adjusting the straps carefully. When fitted well, helmets prevent serious unintentional injury.

How do I measure my head for proper helmet size?
To find your approximate helmet size, measure around your head just above the eyebrows.

How do I know I have a proper fit?
A helmet that is fitted and adjusted properly should feel snug not tight, and should not move from side-to-side or front-to-back. Expect to spend a good fifteen minutes adjusting and fitting pads and straps to get the best fit. You should also adjust the fit each time you put your helmet on.

Can I use my bicycle helmet for other uses?
The ASTM Inline Skating standard is identical to the bicycle helmet standard. If you plan to use your bicycle helmet for other than bike riding or inline skating, be informed there is no crash testing data. There are multi-purpose helmets on the market that meet Snell's N-96 multi-purpose standard and those helmets can be used according to the instructions given with the helmet.

Where can I find out more about bike helmets?
You can contact the Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program at 708-327-2455. They have pamphlets and brochures that have helpful tips to help guide you to a proper helmet fit.

There are many websites on the Internet that promote bicycle helmet use and can provide more information. Here is a list of some of the links:

Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NHTSA also has a website designed specifically to bicycle safety.

Bicycle helmets can help prevent 88% of head injuries from bicycle crashes. However, bicycle helmets do not solve all the problems of bicycle related crashes, they are only one component to bike safety.

Bicycles are not toys they are vehicles and while operating one, the same safety rules of the road as other vehicles need to be followed. Here is a list of some of the ways you can help prevent injuries or fatalities from bicycle related crashes:

  • Check your bicycle for correct size. Make sure it has properly working parts that include reflectors.
  • Bicyclists should look left-right and left again before entering the roadway or intersection.
  • Ride defensively!
  • Bicyclists should ride single file on the right side of the road, just like cars, and signal their intentions to other vehicles on the road.
  • Set a good example for children. Always wear your helmet when you ride and follow the rules of the road.

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Kick-Off Into Spring

Soccer has become one of the fastest growing sports among elementary school aged children. More children are playing soccer than any other sport. The good news is that injury rates are relatively low; compared to other sports, injuries to occur and many are preventable.

The most common injuries in soccer players are the knees, ankles and feet. The injuries can be acute such as a sprain or strain injury or the injuries can be caused from overuse such as stress fractures.

There are several factors that lead to injuries such as: improper coaching, poor fitness, abnormalities of the legs or feet, inadequate or improper equipment/shoe wear, unsafe playing surface and extreme weather.

There are ways to help prevent injuries on the soccer field. By looking at the factors that lead to injury it may help address a situation before it leads to problems.

  • Before you sign your child up for a soccer team, it is important to inquire about the coaching staff. The coach should be qualified and preferably one whom the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) has certified.
  • The American Association of Pediatrics recommends every child receive a pre-season physical. These physicals should be completed at least 6-8 weeks prior to the start of the season so the physician can evaluate any problems in advance.
  • The most important pieces of equipment in soccer are the cleats and shin guards. You should replace worn cleats. The cleats provide traction and worn cleats can lead to injuries of the feet, ankles and knees. Shin guards are a must and should be worn during practice as well as games. They protect against serious injuries of the bones in the lower leg as well as minor painful bruises. Mouth guards are not a requirement but they are very effective in preventing injuries to the mouth and could prevent small head concussions. The mouth guard provides a cushion in the mouth and stabilizes the jaw to prevent the jaw from thrusting together.

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One, Two, Three Strikes You're Out

Baseball season is almost upon us. The kids are polishing their mitts and breaking in the new baseball caps. Whether you are playing organized sports or getting a quick game together at the park, injuries can occur.

According to research conducted at the Harborview Injury Prevention Program in Seattle, there are approximately 10 million sports related injuries occurring each year. Many sports related injuries could be prevented with the proper conditioning and training, wearing the appropriate protective gear and using proper equipment.

If you have had a prior injury you are twice as likely to reinjure yourself. Prolonged sports activity puts a strain on the muscles and their connective tissues. Many sports enthusiasts do not spend enough time resting after and injury. Often, once a muscle or the connective tissue has been injured, the area becomes weak and is prone to further injury.

Here are some tips to keep the fun in the game and help prevent injuries:

  • Allow time for warming up and cooling down. Make sure the coach takes the children through a warm up period prior to the game.
  • Play periods should be matched by periods of rest. Children should be rotated through the roster to allow for periods of rest.
  • Treat the very minor problems before they become serious. Have your child tell you of any difficulties while playing sports.
  • If you experience pain, STOP what you are doing and rest. If the problem persists see a physician.
  • Keep well hydrated and maintain good nutrition. A healthy body is less likely to sustain an injury.
  • Check the equipment is safe and appropriate for use. Invest in good protective gear.

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    Gearing Up For The Game

    Nearly 6 million children play in baseball and softball leagues. More than 115,000 children require emergency medical care for injuries each year. The head is involved in more baseball and softball injuries than any other part of the body.

    The injuries that occur in sports are not "just part of the game". They can be as minor as a bruise or serious life threatening injuries. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, as many as 1 in 4 of these injuries are considered serious. They include, concussions, broken bones, torn ligaments, dislocated joints and lacerations. Many of these injuries can have lifetime consequences. Half of all sports related injuries are preventable!

    Here is a listing of the important safety equipment children should wear when playing sports:


  • Helmets for catchers that meet the NOSAE standards.
  • Attach facemasks to batters' and catchers' helmets to prevent injuries to the eyes, mouth and face.
  • Make sure catchers wear full protective gear and use a catcher's mitt at all times.
  • Make sure boys wear athletic cups.
  • Wear rubber, not metal cleats.


  • Make sure children wear eye protection made of non-shattering material.
  • Use elbow pads to avoid bruises and scrapes.
  • Wear shoes that provide good ankle support to prevent sprains and strains.


  • Make sure mouth guards have a keeper strap attached to the helmet.
  • Make sure boys wear athletic cups.
  • Wear a helmet and a facemask that meet NOSAE standards.
  • Use full padding for upper and lower body.
  • Wear rubber, not metal cleats.


  • Wear shin pads that reach the upper calf and are kept in place by socks.
  • Wear rubber, not metal cleats.
  • Use a synthetic, non-absorbent ball when playing on fields that are wet. Soggy balls are slippery and increase the risk of injury.

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    The Happenings

    There are many events planned for the upcoming months that pertain to injury prevention. Here is a list of some of the current happenings at Loyola University Medical School campus and the surrounding Suburbs.

    Child Safety Seat Checks

  • April 15 (10a-1p) Ed James Chevrolet 115 W. Frontage Rd., Bolingbrook
  • April 22 (10a-2p) Babies-R-Us Rt. 59, Naperville
  • April 29 (9a-1p) Toys-R-Us 1434 Butterfield Rd. Downers Grove

    Child Safety Seat Checks

  • May 6 (10a-2p) Gartner Buick, Naperville
  • May 13 (9a-12p) Downers Grove Police Department 825 Burlington, Downers Grove
  • May 20 (1a-2p) Western Springs Fire Station

    May Events
    Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Day will be celebrated on May 17, 2000. The Injury Prevention Program will be on hand to talk about the necessity of booster seats for children over 40 pounds.

    Loyola University is co-sponsoring a Summer Safety Health Fair at Wild Oats Foods on May 6, 2000. The National Bike Federation will give a lecture on bike safety. The Injury Prevention Program will be on hand to fit bike helmets and talk about bike safety. Bicycle helmets will be make available at the cost of $6.95. The Chicago Skate Patrol will give tips on safe inline skating.

    Burn and Shock Trauma Institute is sponsoring a free AARP 55 ALIVE Mature Driving Course. Driver's 50 years of age and older are encouraged to attend. The classes will be held on May 24 and 25 from 10:00 until 2:30. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Participants that complete the 8-hour class may receive up to 10% reduction in their automobile insurance rates. Please contact the Injury Prevention office (708) 327-2455 to register for the class.

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    Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

    • National SAFE KIDS week (5/6-5/13).
    • National EMS and EMSC Week (5/15-5/21).
    • National Safe Boating Week (5/20-5/26).
    • Buckle Up America! Week (5/22-5/29).

    The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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