What Are the Dangers of Children Riding Motorcycles Without Helmets?

by Jonita Davis

    The World Health Organization has recorded millions of motorcycle accidents around the world involving children. These accidents often end in severe injury or death, and many of the riders do not wear helmets. In fact, the dangers of riding a motorcycle without a helmet increase when the child is not wearing a helmet to protect the head from injury. Those dangers include death and brain injury but can also mean more extensive damage to children based on their age, the area injured and nature of the accident.

    Age Differences

    Experts at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found that the damage to the brain was more pronounced when the helmet-less rider was a teenager versus a younger child. The reason is that more brain cells are damaged beyond repair due to swelling in older children, while the younger ones experienced less swelling and thus less damage after the accident.

    Impact Issues

    One of the dangers that most parents overlook is the impact injury, which is a condition that consists of brain swelling, according to the Blank Children's Hospital website. When the child's head hits the pavement without a helmet on, the impact is absorbed by the head, causing the brain to swell after the accident is over. The helmet on a child's head absorbs the impact, so that the head itself doesn't have to. The impact injury is also one that can be mild, severe or fatal, depending on the nature of the accident and the age of the child.

    Traumatic Brain Injury

    In addition to the impact and brain swelling, the child can develop a set of symptoms known together as traumatic brain injury. Blank Children's Hospital's website describes the injury as blood vessels and nerves in the brain separating from the surface where they function daily to either break from one another or become loosely linked to one another. After the accident, the mangled nerves and vessels contribute to swelling, blood loss and loss of function in many parts of the body as well. The term "traumatic brain injury" is often used in place of "impact injury," because a helmet on the child's head prevents the separation of the nerves and vessels from the brain's surface.

    Road Rash

    One of the most minor of injuries in a motorcycle accident is road rash. The American Family Children's Hospital site describes other injuries from failing to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. These include bruises and disfiguring contusions, also known as road rash. Road rash occurs when the flesh slides across a textured, hard surface at a fast pace. The impact causes bruising, while the prolonged contact with the surface while moving severely damages the flesh. These injuries can be disfiguring, leaving scars or causing damage to the face that must be surgically repaired.

    About the Author

    Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images