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David Nuckley says that loose or improperly-fitted helmets can shift or fall off, and won’t offer bike riders and other athletes protection against dangerous falls.

U of M expert available to answer the question: "Are all bike helmets created equal?"

June 6, 2011

This year in the United States, nearly 250,000 children will experience a bicycle accident requiring a visit to the emergency room. The use of a helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by 85 percent. But are all bike helmets created equal? Is a helmet still effective when fitted improperly? And just how should a bicycle helmet be fitted to ensure maximum safety?

A University of Minnesota expert who can provide insight into how properly fitted bike helmets can dramatically limit head injuries is:  

David Nuckley, assistant professor, Program in Physical Therapy, Medical School

Nuckley says that loose or improperly-fitted helmets can shift or fall off, and won’t offer bike riders and other athletes protection against dangerous falls. The style and features of a helmet also aren’t necessarily important for recreational riders.

“Helmets don’t need to be fancy or expensive to offer a protection, but they do need to fit properly,” said Nuckley.

According to Nuckley, properly fitted helmets fit tight around the head and sit level, so that two fingers can be placed between the helmet and the eyebrows. The “Y” straps should fall on either side of the ear and fit snug under the jaw, but still allow a child to open his or her mouth widely.

Nuckley and other physical therapy faculty will offer free helmet fittings at the upcoming “Mini Medical School” program on June 20. The program focuses on head injuries. For more information, visit www.ahc.umn.edu.

For a video demonstration featuring Nuckley, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyWEo2RqnuY.

To interview Nuckley or to schedule him for a live, in-studio appearance and demonstration, contact Kelly O’Connor at (612) 624-5680 or oconn246@umn.edu.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit www.umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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Tips on how to properly fit a bike helmet (YouTube video)