Whether heading to a nearby pool, visiting a friend or going to school, children use their bicycles as a convenient way to get around. But while an easy and healthy mode of transportation, bicycling offers its own set of hazards - especially when kids don't wear helmets. Whether due to apathy, vanity, or lack of parental insistence, many kids stop wearing helmets once they are confident in their abilities not to fall off while riding. They forget that riding over a pothole, stopping quickly, taking a turn too sharply, or getting hit by a car are all scenarios that can affect even the most advanced bike riders.
Each year 99 children are killed and 254,000 children are injured while riding bicycles. Bike injuries are often minor cuts, scraps, and bruises, however severe head trauma can also occur. With only 25 percent of children reporting that they always wear bike helmets, head traumas are much more common than they need to be. In fact, helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and severe brain injury by 88 percent according to Safe Kids USA.
At Lutheran General Children's Hospital, pediatricians, remind their patients to wear helmets; however they never know if the patients actually take the reminder to heart. One pediatrician, Deborah Ehrlich, MD, hopes that her dramatic bike riding accident will be a lesson for her own patients -- and all children -- on the importance of wearing a helmet.
As she was on her way home from a bike ride at Park Center at the Glen in Northbrook, Dr. Ehrlich was hit by a semi truck. This horrific accident occurred at the intersection of Willow Road and Shermer Road as she was attempting to cross the street on a green light and a semi truck was trying to turn right on a red light. The driver of the truck did not see her crossing the street and turned directly into Dr. Ehrlich. The truck's headlight hit her side throwing her to the ground before running her over. She was taken to Lutheran General Hospital's Level 1 Trauma Center, where she was treated for a fractured upper arm, wrist, pelvis, sacrum, and tibia.
"The helmet truly saved her from a major head injury, I am sure of it," said Dr. Manoj Shah, director of trauma services at Lutheran General. "It is obvious when you look at the pictures of the helmet, which was demolished."
Dr. Ehrlich is on the road to recovery as she attends physical therapy in hopes of a full recovery and returning to work with her pediatric patients. She hopes that her bike accident will be motivation for parents to purchase their children helmets and for the kids to wear helmets whenever they are riding.
"Wearing a helmet saved my life and I want to tell make sure others know that," said Dr. Ehrlich. "If this accident can get through to kids how important a helmet is, it will have been worth it."
The Trauma Department at Lutheran General, which is celebrating its twenty fifth year as a Level One Trauma Center, sells bicycle helmets for $10. Selling bike helmets is part of an injury prevention initiative at the hospital. Each helmet is fitted to ensure that they provide maximum protection for the bike rider.
About Advocate Lutheran General Hospital
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is a 645-bed tertiary, academic and research hospital and a Level I trauma center (the highest level). Lutheran General has been rated 13 times as one of the 100 Top Hospitals and 15 top major teaching hospitals in the country by Thomson Reuters. Lutheran General was named by US News & World Report as being one of America's Best Hospitals, receiving 'top 50 in the nation' rankings for medical excellence and advanced capabilities in many specialties for 10 years.
The hospital was the first in the north and northwest suburbs to be awarded the American Nurses Credentialing Center's prestigious Magnet designation, the highest honor and level of nursing excellence in the nation, and recently earned reaccreditation.
In recognition of its commitment to quality care and better overall patient outcomes, Lutheran General is designated as a Blue Distinction Centers for cardiac care, spine surgery, knee and hip replacement by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Lutheran General recently achieved the best overall surgical morbidity ranking in the country, according to the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program of the American College of Surgeons. In addition, the hospital is certified as a primary stroke center by the Joint Commission in recognition of its exceptional outcomes for these patients.
It also is home to Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital, one of the most comprehensive providers of pediatric care in the state. The only children's hospital in the greater north and northwest suburban region of Chicago, it is a major regional referral center for a broad range of infant and pediatric services, a Level III perinatal facility (the highest level) and designated as a Pediatric Critical Care Center by the Illinois Department of Public Health Emergency Medical Services for Children.
Lutheran General Hospital is part of Advocate Health Care, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, which is the largest health care provider in the state and one of the nation's top health care systems.