Women, kids must wear helmets too to avoid head injury
By Azera Parveen Rahman, New Delhi, March 20 : Some scenes are so much a part of our everyday life that they hardly strike us as being strange or downright illogical. Like the sight of a family on a two-wheeler: The man has a helmet on, but the woman and the children don't.
Doctors say that often women victims of road accidents suffer more head injury because they don't have protective gear - a point to seriously ponder upon, given India's dubious record of highest road accident cases in the world.
"I have just discharged a woman who had a head injury in an accident and had to be operated upon. She was on a two-wheeler and did not have a helmet on. Such cases are becoming very common these days - the reason why I feel wearing helmets should be made compulsory for women," Rajendra Prasad, neurosurgeon at Apollo Hospital, told IANS.
He says children too should be made to wear safety gear on two-wheelers.
"In some countries children are banned on two-wheelers. In Cambodia and Vietnam children have to wear helmets. This is something that needs to be addressed in India too. A large number of cases of both minor and major head injuries in children and women can be avoided by making wearing helmets compulsory," Prasad said.
Many times, doctors say, patients admit that they don't buy a helmet because it seems like an excess expenditure.
"When I hear that, I offer my patients a simple calculation. A good quality helmet costs around Rs.3,000 - at times you will get it cheaper. Two days' treatment for a head injury costs around Rs.40,000-50,000. And if there is surgery, it can go up to a lakh. The choice is yours," says Asha Bakshi, neurosurgeon at Max Super Speciality hospital.
Wearing of helmet is often not seen as a safety measure but simply a rule which, if not allowed, will invite a penalty.
The issue of making helmet wearing compulsory for women pillion riders has been a debatable one. Sikh women have refused to wear helmets, citing religious reasons.
Bakshi says the number of head injury cases in India is high.
"In the last 10 months in our hospital alone we have had 400 cases of head injuries, most relating to road accidents," she said.
Prasad says the Indian Head Injuries Foundation, of which he is a part, is in talks with helmet makers to make good quality and economical protective gear that will be accessible to all.
Doctors also harp on the urgent need for life saving skills training for police personnel and even mediapersons who are usually among the first ones to reach accident sites.
Bakshi cautions about spinal injury cases. "If one is not careful, then lifting an accident victim who has a spinal injury will do more harm than good.
"But apart from road accidents, there are many instances in which seemingly small head injuries turn serious. Children falling off the bed is one example," says Anjali Mukherjee, who works in the neurosurgery department of a private hospital.
"When a child falls off some height, look out for symptoms of head injury. Is there a bump? Was the child stunned? Is she crying excessively? Is she irritated, not eating well, is dizzy and vomiting?
A CT scan will rule out the possibility of Extradural Haematoma which is a blood clot inside the head.
Similarly for somebody older, a concussion followed by a bump on the head and amnesia, or dizziness and vomiting should be taken seriously. "Especially those who are on aspirin," Bakshi said.
(Azera Parveen Rahman can be contacted at email@example.com)