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Put a lid on it, for safety's sake

Dear Abby: Please remind parents and teenagers that it is "cool" to wear a helmet when riding bikes and skateboards. A child in our town died recently after suffering a head injury, and we have just received word that the son of a close friend (age 23) has started having seizures because of a head injury he suffered as a teen after falling from a skateboard.

I had my grandson decorate his helmet. All his friends thought it looked great, and that made it "cool" to wear it. With summer here and kids outside, wearing a helmet cannot be stressed enough.

-- Vigilant Grandma Out West

Dear Grandma: You are not only a vigilant grandma, but also a clever one. Falls are common among bike riders, skateboarders, Rollerbladers, and those who drive and ride all-terrain vehicles. According to the Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Network, an estimated 7 million Americans seek medical care every year for injuries sustained during sports or recreation-related activities, an estimated 4.3 million of whom are treated in emergency rooms. The highest rates of sports- and recreation-related injuries are among adolescents 10 to 14 years of age.

When a child's head hits cement, wood or hard-packed dirt, the result can be a traumatic injury that leads to concussion, permanent brain injury or even death. That is why children who participate in sports should be strongly encouraged to wear protective headgear at all times.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

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