Helmets for Many Activities
Summary: Our primary field is bicycle helmets, but here is what we know about other helmets.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a very useful page
recommending helmets for many activities on their website.
The US equestrian community developed an ASTM standard in 1988 with unique characteristics for horseback riding and horse
sports. The hazard of being kicked by the horse is unique. If you ride in woods, the larger vents of the bicycle helmet
are more likely to snag a branch, and the rider position is higher on a horse than on a bicycle. As a result, ASTM has a
specific equestrian standard that calls out a helmet for the impacts encountered in horseback riding. One of the anvils
the helmet is tested on is a sharp edge that simulates a horse's hoof or steel fencing. Although some riders do wear
bicycle helmets for cost reasons, they can have much better protection with an equestrian helmet designed for their
sport. It should meet the ASTM standard for equestrian helmets (F1163).
There is no law in the US that prohibits a merchant from selling equestrian helmets that do not meet any standard, so
look for an ASTM F-1163 sticker. We do not recommend equestrian helmets for bicycle riding because the lab drop test on
flat surfaces is done at only 1.8 meters rather than the 2.0 meter bicycle requirement. In addition, most equestrian
helmets are not as well ventilated as most bike helmets for summer riding. Plantation, Florida, has a helmet ordinance
requiring ASTM F1163 or its equestrian helmet equivalent as approved by the Chief of Police for age 16 and under. It took
effect in 1999. New York State now has an equestrian helmet law as well for riders under 14. Its effective date was
1/5/00. It requires an ASTM helmet and also requires that a helmet be provided if you rent a horse from a horse rental
service. For sources of information on equestrian helmets, see this message by Dru Malavase
equestrian helmet expert. For injury data, see the web page of the American Medical
. Another good source is the Equestrian Medical Safety Association.
Heel wheels - Wheeled Shoes
Heel wheels (Heelys or Wheelys) on kid's shoes (the most popular brands are from Heelys, Inc. and the Street Gliders strap-on
type.) were a fad some years back that raised helmet questions. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently said they
contributed to about 1,600 emergency room visits in 2006, the first year of the fad. Since they are used on hard
surfaces, and about half of the falls are to the rear, it would make sense to use a skating or skateboard helmet
following the CPSC guidelines
. But the kids are wearing the shoes for everyday use,
not specifically for sport, and parents don't expect them to wear a helmet every time they wear the shoes. Further, they
like the ability to walk and instantly convert to gliding, and a helmet gives away the secret. We don't know how to
resolve that one. World Against Toys Causing Harm
put them in its "2006 Ten Worst
Toys" list. There is a published study by emergency room doctors in the
indicating that injuries severe enough to require an emergency room visit are a problem,
76% were outdoors, 70% were beginners, 84% were girls, 87% suffered broken wrists, arms and elbows, and 54% said they
would keep using the shoes after recovery. None of their sample of 67 had a head injury. The Canadian Safety Council
has issued a consumer alert advising the use of
skateboarding protective gear, and avoiding use on roads, sidewalks, and wet surfaces. In short, we have seen very little
practical advice for parents on wheeled shoes, but a web search may turn up more.
The hoverboard is a motorized scooter-like device that moves sideways, with a wheel at each end. The rider balances to
keep it upright, standing a few inches higher than the ground. Most are designed for about 10mph on level ground. We
would not use a hoverboard without a helmet, our standard advice for anything that rolls fast on pavement without
protection for the operator. Helmets for bicycles should work at that speed and height of the head above the ground. In
2006 the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recommendation that bicycle helmets are fine
for low powered scooters
. We would recommend looking for a dual certified skate style
, certified to the ASTM F-1492 Skateboard standard as well as the CPSC bike helmet standard. The bicycle
certification means it would perform well in the initial hard impact, while the skate certification requires a little
more coverage in the rear and limited multi-impact capability.
Parents are often concerned about children learning ice skating with no head protection. A study in the journal
indicates that the concern is well-placed, and recommends helmets for ice skating. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission
recommends that ice skaters use bicycle, ski or
skateboard helmets. If you want to follow that recommendation, we would suggest that you look for a helmet certified to
the ASTM Skateboard standard, F 1492, or even dual certified
to the skateboard and bicycle
helmet standards. They have some multi-impact capability and more coverage in the rear than a bike helmet. If you already
have a bike helmet, the recommendation includes that too. The rounder exteriors that we recommend for cycling on pavement
are not important for ice skating, since the ice is smooth and the helmet will slide no matter what it has on the
exterior. Ski helmets tend to be more expensive, but are also warmer, and the impact protection is similar. Most bike and
ski helmets are single-impact only, and must be replaced if you hit them hard in a crash.
Downhill skateboarding on mountain roads has become a sport more recently. The helmets used vary
a lot in impact protection. There is more info on that sport on the
Skate Safe site
, where they emphasize not crashing as well as wearing safe gear. They have info on the standards that
individual models meet that is the best clue for finding the most protective helmets.
Bicycle helmets are not designed to protect in the harder impacts a motorcyclist experiences hitting something at 55 MPH
or more. There are good helmets designed for every motor sport, and no excuse to settle for the lesser protection of a
bike helmet. Standard bicycle helmets do not protect the face (you can live just fine with a busted nose or split lip
from a bicycle crash) or the jaw joint. The jaw can transmit injurious force to the brain in a crash at motorized speeds.
We believe that motor scooters require motorcycle helmets too, and would even include motorized bicycles. We have
a page up on that subject
. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission, on the other hand,
recommends that users of low speed motor assisted vehicles use bicycle helmets. But for "wheeled large motor" vehicles
such as ATV's, dirt bikes, minibikes, motocrossing, karting mopeds and powered scooters they recommend DOT or Snell
approved motorcycle helmets. New Zealand has a standard for All Terrain Vehicle helmets (ATV), but we don't know what it
Pogo Stick Helmets
A sport pogo stick craze began back in 2005 and the manufacturers all recommended wearing a helmet. We think that's good
advice, but don't know what helmet to recommend, since the falls made possible by more powerful pogo sticks can easily
exceed what a bicycle, Segway or even pole vault helmet is designed to protect you against. Ventilation and light weight
seem necessary for comfort given the heavy exertion, up and down motion, and low airflow. Any helmet will offer some
protection, but we are reluctant to recommend one that is not designed for this demanding sport.
Pole Vaulting Helmets
The 2002 death of Kevin Dare, a pole vaulter who fell back on the pole plant box and two other vaulters who died the same
year raised the question of pole vaulting helmets. For some years promoters of the sport have been studying catastrophic
injuries to recommend improvements, and their analysis indicates that expanding the landing pits, using padded collars on
the pole plant box and other measures to improve the facilities, training and coaching techniques can probably prevent
more injuries than the use of helmets. For the definitive pole vaulting safety site, see former World Record Holder and
Olympic bronze medalist Jan Johnson's Skyjumpers
page, with articles
on pole vault safety from a thorough study of pole vaulting injuries.
ASTM has revised its standard for pole vaulting pits, and both high school and college facilities should have been
upgraded for the 2003 season. In the meantime, ASTM's helmet subcommittee established a task group to develop a standard
for a pole vaulting helmet, but it has been quite a challenge. The height of the fall can be 18 feet, reaching a velocity
of 23 MPH/39 KPH. Contrast that to a bicycle crash, where the closing speed of head and pavement is typically about 12
MPH/20 KPH. The energy to be managed by the helmet could be almost three times what a bicycle helmet can handle, and
would exceed the capabilities of motorcycle helmets. To protect against a fall like that if the athlete is going to hit a
hard surface, the helmet would have to be perhaps two or three inches thick, and the sport would become the mushroom
heads vault. In addition, there is a problem with pole clearance if the helmet is too thick on the sides. The athletes
will of course resist adding weight and a cumbersome helmet. More to the point, we always advise that where possible,
removing the cause of the injury before the impact occurs makes more sense than putting on a helmet to avoid the
consequences of faulty athletic facility design. The problem can be better addressed by changing the configuration of the
pits and other equipment so that the jumper does not hit hard surfaces to begin with. The organizers of the sport have
control of those elements, unlike the road environment where it is more difficult to control the elements of danger.
We would obviously recommend not using the older, smaller pits for vaulting. But a few states now require helmets for
pole vaulting. If you do vault and want to wear a helmet, we would recommend one that meets the ASTM pole vaulting helmet
standard, F 2400-06. Unfortunately that does not include the first purpose-designed pole vault helmet, sponsored by Kevin
Dare's father and the Penn State Sports Department. It is not certified to the pole vault standard, only to ASTM F1492
for skateboarding. But a newer Pro-Tec Pole Vault helmet does meet ASTM F2400, and is available online for about $52 plus
Nothing on the market will protect you against the direct blow to the back of the head from sixteen feet onto an unpadded
cement pole plant box, even a motorcycle helmet. In other situations a helmet may help, but cannot begin to approach the
protection of additional pit and pole plant box padding. Helmets to avoid are those that do not meet any impact standard
at all, and have no standards sticker inside, or a European EN standard for some unknown sport. Again, not one of these
helmets can guarantee that you will not be injured. We recommend that you not vault at any facility that does not meet
the new ASTM standard. You can find more info on upgrading pole vault landing pits on Jan Johnson's website above. A
helmet is no substitute for a safe pit design!
Although you might think that a contact sport like rugby would require helmets, the players of the game have had other
ideas. They initially rejected the use of layers of gear for body protection, including the head. But that must have
changed, because World Rugby now has a long list of approved
. The World Rugby standard includes soft materials and thickness of less than 1cm. That rules out any
significant impact protection, but could do a lot to keep ears intact. This injury prevention study
concluded that the headgear rugby players had tried could reduce scalp injuries, but did little to prevent concussion.
But an Australian study that focused on improving the headgear used for rugby and Australian rules football found
otherwise. And this 2022 study the Annals of
found that "...new generation headgear could make a difference on the field in reducing
injurious impact accelerations in a collision."
We have a page up on electric scooter helmets
. Push scooters suddenly became popular in
2000, so there is not much data on injuries yet. Anything that lets you travel fast on wheels on a very hard surface will
involve crashes, and the hard surface indicates you should wear a helmet to preserve your brain. If cars are present that
advice becomes critical. Scooter users probably can expect crash impacts similar to roller skaters and skateboarders. A
NY Post reporter surveyed emergency rooms there in August of 2000 and was told that many scooter injuries are showing up
now. In early September of 2000 the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a press release warning that scooter
injuries were on the rise and recommending a bicycle helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. They have also put up some scooter
injury data. And in 2006 they issued a recommendation that bicycle helmets are fine for scooters and
low powered motorized scooters
The numbers of scooter riders' visits to emergency rooms were very low compared to the half million American bicyclists
who end up there, but still cause for concern since there are not that many scooters out there yet. The advice was very
similar to CPSC's findings on roller skate injuries
back in 1997. In October press reports
said that twelve communities in the US had adopted or were considering laws to require helmets for scooter users,
including laws already adopted in Medford, NJ; Raleigh, NC; Milton, WA, and San Francisco, CA. In addition, Elizabeth, NJ
now has a law, and there is are bills pending to adopt a statewide law in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. There
are lots of helmets available that will be adequate for scooter protection, particularly since roller skate helmets and
bicycle helmets are designed to an identical ASTM standard. (The CPSC standard does not actually cover roller skating, or
scooters. It is limited to bicycle helmets.) For more info, see our comments on skating helmets below. In one of its 2000
issues the Journal of the American Medical Association
an article on scooter injuries
. Then in December of 2000 the Centers for Disease Control issued a statement, indicating that the rapid rise in the rate of scooter
injuries was more alarming than the actual number
. They noted two scooter deaths, one from a head injury and the
other from being hit by a car. Next CPSC got into the act again in August of 2001 with a recommendation that users of
motorized scooters use bicycle helmets. Their 2007 statistics show that there were nearly 50,000 emergency room-treated
injuries involving unpowered scooters in 2007, and more than 80 per cent of them were to children younger than 15. In
addition to wearing a helmet, CPSC recommends elbow and knee pads when riding a scooter. For those who are promoting
scooter safety, Toys R Us has a pamphlet titled "Scooter Safety Tips for Riders." It's weighted toward what to buy, but
it is a nice full color pamphlet, and all the riders have helmets on. And here is a scary scooter
where the child was not wearing her helmet.
The Segway is a motorized scooter-like device with two wheels and gyroscopes to keep it upright. The rider stands upright
about six inches higher than the ground. It is designed to go 14 mph or more on level ground. We would not use a Segway
without a helmet, our standard advice for anything that rolls fast on pavement without protection for the operator.
Although helmets for bicycles would work at that speed and height of the head above the ground, there was a specific ASTM
standard for Segway helmets, F 2416. No manufacturers made helmets to that standard, and it was withdrawn in 2016. Segway
recommends a multi-impact helmet due to concerns about helmets being bashed around in the trunk of a car with one of
their machines. The closest thing to an F 2416 helmet now available would be a dual certified
skate style helmet
, certified to the ASTM F-1492 Skateboard standard as well as the CPSC bike helmet standard. The
bicycle certification means it would perform well in the initial hard impact, and because it has a hard shell it should
withstand being carried in a trunk with a Segway. In mid-2003 President Bush was photographed trying to mount a Segway,
tennis racket in hand and no helmet. He fell off but luckily caught himself before hitting the ground. Apparently he had
neglected to turn the machine on, so the gyroscopes were not energized. In 2006 the Consumer Product Safety Commission
issued a recommendation that bicycle helmets are fine for low powered scooters
including the Segway.
Over the years, the skating community using inline or quad skates for normal recreational and competitive activities has
settled mostly on bicycle helmets as the best thing on the market for their activity. Helmets said to be designed for
skating usually have more coverage in the rear.
The International In-line Skating Association was one of the organizations that persuaded ASTM to extend its F1447
bicycle helmet standard to skating. So ASTM considers bicycle helmets adequate for roller skating. So does the Consumer Product Safety Commission
. The ASTM standard does not cover trick or freestyle skating
and skateboarding, where frequent crashes require a multi-impact helmet. See skateboard
The ASTM standard does cover roller racing, since the falls are very similar to bike races, and bike helmets have almost
eliminated deaths in US Cycling Federation/USA Cycling races since they were required in 1986. In either sport the
initial impact with the pavement is the only life-threatening moment, even if those drafting behind may run you over in
their attempt to remain upright and in the race.
Skaters have other safety equipment needs, including wrist braces and knee pads. For more on skating injuries, You may
want to check out this medical journal article:
Risk Factors for Injuries from in-Line Skating and the Effectiveness of Safety Gear
There was increased interest in skateboard helmets following the Fall 2005 death of a professional skateboarder during a
demo, when he crashed and his helmet came off before the impact (probably from an unfastened strap). Skateboarding
requires a multi-impact helmet. Bicycle/rollerblade helmets are single-impact helmets. They are not designed for trick
skating, freeform skating, half-pipe skating, hot dogging, roller hockey and radical skateboard styles where falls are
frequent and a multi-impact helmet is required. For those sports and for skateboard use we would recommend looking for a
helmet that meets the ASTM F-1492 standard and is dual certified
to the CPSC bicycle helmet
standard. The ASTM skateboard helmet standard, F-1492, tests helmets with three hits on the same spot, so it is designed
for the falls a skateboarder expects. There is no US law requiring a skateboard helmet to meet any standard
whatsoever--that's up to the manufacturer. Consumer Reports found
back in 2002 that some
helmets actually labeled and advertised for skate meet the CPSC bike helmet standard but may not meet the multi-impact
skateboard standard. In fact, when we go looking for skateboard helmets at major retailers what we find are bike helmets
made of crushable, single impact EPS foam that meet the CPSC standard, with very few labeled as meeting ASTM F-1492
although they may have skaters and skateboards on the box. We recommend that you look for the sticker that says ASTM
for a skateboard or trick skating helmet. For helmets meeting both the ASTM F-1492 standard and the CPSC bike
helmet standard, see our page on dual certified helmets
. In the spring of 2003 the Consumer
Product Safety Commission published an interesting article about skateboard injuries. We have not seen a more recent one
from them. They recommended wrist guards and helmets. One possible source for very low cost skateboard helmets is the
Ian Tilmann Foundation
. If you live in Tampa, Florida you can pick
up your helmet at one of their events for free. In 2019 the foundation site said they have given out about 3500 helmets
so far. See also longboarding
There are several manufacturers out there with specialized Skydiving helmets, easily found with a web search
. Skydivers are
generally looking for a warmer helmet than most sports, a camera mount and a close fit to keep the helmet from vibrating.
There are military specifications for parachuting helmets, and a European standard as well. Unless the manufacturer meets
one of those standards you don't know how the helmet will perform in a ground impact.
Snow Sport Helmets
Ski helmet use has increased dramatically in recent years. The National Ski Areas
said that 61% of skiers and snowboarders in the US wore helmets in the 2009-10 season, and that increased
to 65% in 2015. There should be more recent data available. They have a website up called Lids on Kids
that is the best single source of ski helmet information at present. More
skiers wear helmets than bicyclists, and the data is from actual observation, not from telephone interviews.
Skiers can reduce their risk of death dramatically by not skiing fast near trees. No other protective measure can equal
the effect of not slamming into the tree to begin with! We recommend that skiers avoid slopes with trees, rocks or
unpadded lift line pylons, as well as slopes where other skiers jump without being able to see their landing spot. The
local ski patrol can tell you where such danger spots are.
A German study has indicated that visual acuity and depth perception are important in avoiding crashes. They recommend
the use of glasses or contacts if the skier needs them for everyday use, and the use of yellow colored filters for
goggles when light is flat to help spot variations in the snow. So the first step is to minimize the crashes to begin
Comparative ski helmet info is scarce. Consumer Reports
had an article in their December, 2003 issue on ski
helmets. It is outdated now, including the helmets they recommended. They said that price and performance are not
related. You might find the article on the Consumer Reports website
fee or find it in your local library.
Press attention to ski injuries varies. With two celebrity deaths early in 1998 the subject suddenly received more
attention. The buzz fell off until 2009 when actress Natasha Richardson died after falling on the bunny slope at Mt.
Tremblant and suffering a closed-head injury. Ski deaths are predictable, and aside from Richardson the typical fatal ski
crash is exactly what was described in the press as causing the Kennedy and Bono deaths in 1998: the skier slams into a
tree, or less often another skier, dying of head and body injuries. Some recent medical publications have questioned the
value of a helmet for this type of crash, since the velocities are such that a helmet may not help, or other injuries may
kill the skier even if the head is protected. But some ski and snowboarding concussions result in just hitting hard snow
or ice too hard, maybe as much as 20 per cent of the total head injuries.
An article appeared in February 2006 in the LA Times by Bill Becher titled "Headway on the Slopes". He quoted Dr Stuart
Levy of Denver, whose research shows that ski helmets can cut the rate of head injuries by two thirds and the risk of ski
or snowboard fatalities by 80%. Brent Hagel of the U. of Calgary studied crashes at 19 Canadian ski resorts and concluded
that helmets reduced the risk of serious head injury to skiers and snowboarders by 56%. CPSC has estimated that about 40
per cent of those could have been prevented or reduced in severity with a helmet. The same sources are quoted in this 2015 article
For a very different view, Ski Canada magazine
. published a 2007 report
concluding that helmets can't help much in ski crashes. But Nova Scotia enacted a mandatory ski helmet law, so that view
does not prevail in some parts of Canada.
We would recommend a ski helmet, particularly if the skier does use slopes or trails with trees, and for anybody
concerned about the possibility of head injury even on clear slopes or icy areas. A bicycle helmet used for skiing might
afford some measure of protection, but is not designed for snow sports and is not optimal for that usage. There is little
data on the effectiveness of ski helmets in preventing ski deaths. But a group of researchers in the Department of
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology has estimated anyway that helmets could
prevent 60 to 80 per cent of skiing head injuries. They went on to speculate on reasons ski helmets might not be
effective, including risk compensation--skiing faster because the skier feels invincible in a helmet--inadequate
protection levels of some current ski helmets, and what they believe might be an increase in neck injuries. Other
researchers in the ski injury field believe that neck injuries would not be affected, and we think the neck injury theory
is probably as much a red herring in skiing as it is in bicycling and motorcycling. No doubt body trauma in some
tree-splat cases will cause the death even if the head is protected, and it is also possible that a skier crashing
face-first might hit an unprotected part of the head even with a helmet. One of the leading medical researchers on ski
injury for some 25 years has been Dr. Robert J. Johnson, M.D. of the University of Vermont. If you are with the media and
seeking info, call him at 802-656-8291.
In October of 1998, France launched a national campaign to promote ski helmets for children. Here is an announcement of
the French campaign, in English
and the original French version
They continued it in subsequent years.
Standards for ski helmets are important. There is no U.S. law or regulation that protects you from buying a sub-standard
ski helmet! There are two Snell Memorial Foundation standards, a CEN 1077 European standard, and the ASTM F2040 standard.
Snell has RS-98 for recreational skiing and S-98 for snow sports, the most stringent standards in the market. The ASTM
F2040 standard is the most-used in the US and close to the Snell standard in most requirements. The European CEN 1077
standard is the least demanding. We recommend looking for a sticker in the helmet with at least the ASTM standard. Note
that although it is a ski and snowboard standard, it calls for a one-crash helmet, rather than the multi-impact helmet
that may be more useful for snowboarding style.
Sledding is another snow sport that might benefit from helmet usage. CPSC data show that 7,000 sledders go to emergency
rooms each year in the US with head injuries. Forty-three per cent of them have brain injuries and a third are serious.
CPSC has issued a recommendation that bicycle, hockey, skateboard or ski helmets are fine for sledding.
In December of 2010 the journal Pediatrics
published data on sledding injuries. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
has a position paper on sledding and you may also be
able to find a copy of the study by John R.
that concludes that many sledding injuries could be avoided with helmets and recommends bicycle helmets for
sledders up to age 12.
If you have experienced the shaken-up mental state called "sled head" after a day of sledding or tobogganing, you should
be looking into the same concussion dialogue that football players are concerned about. We now know that repeated
sub-concussive events can cause lasting damage and lead to mental losses. A helmet does not protect against the vibration
that causes sled head.
Articles appeared in 1998 on soccer head injuries based on a study in the November issue of the journal Neurology
A Dutch and American study of 80 long-term soccer players in their mid-twenties showed that they score poorly on tests of
memory, planning and visual processing. The researchers believe that is the product of repeatedly heading the ball or
colliding with other players or goalposts. The article reports that concussions are as frequent in soccer as American
football. The impairment of mental function found was probably too subtle to be obvious to most people except perhaps
family members. Since that article appeared it has become evident that the injury prevention community is not sure that
the data can be interpreted that way. But in March of 2004 a new study by Dr. Scott Delaney showed from statistical
analysis of emergency room data that in the US the rate of concussion in soccer, football and hockey is about equal.
In May of 2000, the Consumer Product Safety Commission sponsored a conference on repetitive head injuries, focused mainly
on youth soccer. The consensus at the conference appeared to be that there may indeed be a head injury problem in soccer,
but it is not clear whether that is from repeatedly heading the ball or from more violent collisions with other players,
goals or the ground. It is also not clear that protective headgear will help, since if there is trauma from heading it
may be related to snapping the head sharply to hit the ball rather than the impact of the ball on the skull. Both actions
are unique to soccer. Research has begun in this field, but it will be some time before the results are in. There have
been preliminary indications that heading is not the primary cause of soccer head injuries. This page is likely to be
behind in that assessment, and we urge you to do a web search for the most current info.
In a separate development, ASTM has adopted a soccer headgear standard, F2439. It specifically excludes repetitive
heading injuries from its scope, and instead calls out headgear (headbands) that offer protection against impacts with
other players, the ground or the goalposts. The first product available to meet it was the Full90 headband
. They now have a full-coverage model. A web search for ASTM F2439 may find
If heading is determined to be the culprit in head injuries any protective headgear would have to provide head protection
while still permitting the player to accurately head the ball. Most people in the field seem to think that coaches and
players are unwilling to change the game rules, although in little league soccer some coaches discourage heading and have
eliminated heading drills while other coaches and organizers refuse to consider the idea that heading might have to be
curtailed. Again, the exact injury cause is yet to be isolated, and probably has more to do with collisions with other
players, goalposts and the ground than with heading.
In 2005 the US Soccer Federation issued a statement saying that it did not believe soccer headgear was helpful, that it
believed it may make the sport more dangerous, and that USSF-sanctioned leagues may not require soccer headgear. We were,
to put it mildly, not impressed with their analysis. You can find their current position on the USSF website
The American Academy of Neurology provides copies of its guidelines for soccer coaches on head injuries. There is more in this British Journal of Sports Medicine article
titled "Head injuries in
youth soccer players presenting to the emergency department".
We have another page on headgear to protect kids with head injuries or developmental
involving head banging, or for others who just need bump protection around the home or on outings.
Unicycles have their own safety equipment needs, including shin guards for beginners to protect against
hitting the pedal or crank. Apart from that, the normal bicycle and skate gear should suffice.
Wakeboarding and Waterskiing Helmets?
The subject of helmets for wakeboarding has been under active discussion on
blogs devoted to the sport. Questions have been raised about the efficacy of any helmet to protect the brain from injury
in a water impact at wakeboarding speed, as well as the usual water sport questions of weight, vents, drainage and
"bucketing" (scooping up water), and the possibility that the larger profile of the helmet would actually increase the
volume of water displaced upon impact and might thereby increase the severity of the impact. Anecdotal evidence indicates
there may be more head injuries in wakeboarding than in slalom water skiing, but as far as we know the injury rates and
difference in injury mechanisms is not documented.
If you go fast in a wheelchair in competitive events you probably should be using a helmet. Considering how much your
clear thinking helps you to overcome the other obstacles you face, preserving brain function is critical to you.
Wheelchair users have a unique set of requirements. The distance to the ground in a fall is less than a bicycle, so the
initial impact will probably be less severe, but can still be life-threatening. You generate less cooling air for a given
amount of exertion than a bicycle rider. And your speed can be considerable but on average is likely to be less than a
bicycle, lessening the risk of snagging your head in a fall on angular helmet features. For those reasons you should
probably ignore our often-repeated advice about rounder, smoother helmets and just go for the helmet with the biggest
vents. Pay attention to the vents on top. Those are not particularly important for bicycle riders, but when you are
moving at lower speeds you want the hot air to be able to rise off your head. If you have a head support in back you will
need a rounder helmet, and perhaps a thick pad behind your back to give you room for the helmet. Helmets with oversized
vents are not cheap, since more sophisticated manufacturing techniques are required, but the difference may be worth it
Canoe and Kayak
Whitewater sports have their own helmets. The impacts are lower than in bicycling, but more frequent, and the sharp rock
hazard results in a need for more coverage. Water must drain from the helmet as well to prevent "bucketing," and some
canoeists mention the ear as a vulnerable area if your head is being dragged under water. A bike helmet will be better
than a bare head for whitewater, but a canoeing or kayaking helmet should be considerably better adapted to the sport. ASTM worked for a time on a whitewater standard, but was unable to raise funding for impact research in a river, so you are on your
own to make a choice. There are some whitewater helmets out there with multi-impact EPP foam in them instead of the less
protective squishy foam, an improvement for very hard impacts. In 2022 Virginia Tech published its study of 24 kayaking helmets with star ratings
, finding only a few with five star protection and a number with only one or two stars. If you need a helmet for whitewater, we highly recommend their data to help select one.
Protection for the Head-Injured
If you want a bicycle helmet for bicycle riders who have previously suffered a brain injury, check
out this page
Some people take their dogs along on bicycles. It is only natural to think about protecting your pet's head as well as
as this Google search shows
there are dog helmets available.
Bicycle helmets show up now in an amazing number of activities, partly because there are more of them in consumers' hands
and more in daily use than any other helmet. You may be asking if a bike helmet is adequate or necessary for bungi
jumping, skydiving, snowmobiling, mountaineering, spelunking, jousting, construction work, car surfing, baseball,
football, hockey, tricycles
or extreme tiddlywinks. The answer in most of those cases is that if
there is a helmet designed specifically for the activity it usually will offer more protection for that activity, and is
optimized for the type of hazard encountered in the activity, rather than the type of hazards encountered in bicycling.
(Tricycling and roller skating are essentially the same activity as bicycling, so according to the
Consumer Product Safety Commission
bicycle helmets fit there.) Bicycle helmets are narrowly focused on providing
protection for one single hard impact on a very hard, completely unyielding surface, while still minimizing weight and
The design tradeoffs that produce a good bicycle helmet may not produce the best helmet for your sport. It may seem ok
to you to accept inadequate protection to try a new activity without buying a new helmet, but we would not recommend
that. We recommend that you try renting the helmet you really need, or borrowing one from a friend. The "savings" from
using a bike helmet could bring you a lifetime of sorrow and a brain that never works as well again. But if you have no
real alternative, a bicycle helmet is likely to be better than a bare head. Even the family we heard from who had used
theirs while sitting in their basement during a tornado warning might have gotten some help if objects had started
blowing around. And at one point there was a proposal from the University of Alabama at Birmingham to promote the use of
any safety helmet to reduce the high rate of head injuries in major tornado strikes. They would prefer a full-face
motorcycle helmet, but say a bike helmet is a lot better than nothing, and "..it is also extremely important that
everyone understand: it is common sense that any protective helmet is better than no helmet at all."
If you know more about a particular type of helmet than we do, have some links we should add here, or would like to
suggest some other improvements in this page, please do so by contacting us. Thanks!