Hospital, Mother Team Up to Teach Importance of Wearing Helmets

Eighty percent of skateboard fall patients are not wearing a helmet.

Health officials in San Diego are teaming up with a Carmel Valley mother who knows first-hand the importance of making sure every child wears a helmet while skateboarding.

Rady Children's Hospital released statistics for pediatric injuries Thursday. Of the patients treated for falls while skateboarding, 80 percent were not wearing a helmet.

That was the case with Paige Hargis and her son, Alex, who was 13 at the time of his injury.

Alex and his friends were just hanging out on the day he was hurt in September 2013.

"He was skateboarding in front of our home," Hargis said.

Usually Alex would grab a helmet on his way out, but this day he didn't, and it proved to have some major consequences.

"He fell off his skateboard, nobody saw exactly how, hit the back of his head, and had a severe skull fracture which then caused him to have seizures where he repeatedly banged the front of his head," she explained.

Alex was immediately knocked unconscious. Once at the hospital, it was determined he needed to be put in a medically-induced coma. For 24 long days, family and friends waited for any sign of hope.

"We were told that he may remain in this vegetative state forever or he could make a full recovery," she said.

Alex started improving; day by day, getting stronger, almost making a full recovery from the nearly traumatic injury. Doctors said the extent of his injuries would've been much less if Alex had been wearing a helmet.

"He would've definitely hit his head. He could've had a concussion but the severity of his accident would not have occurred," Paige explained.

It's just one of many accidental injuries treated each year by the staff at Rady Children's Hospital.

The top threats to children and teenagers are drowning, vehicle crashes, falls and head injuries.

"Out of our skateboarders that come in, an extremely small percentage were wearing helmets, so that's definitely a target population for us," said Renee Douglas, Trauma Program Manager.

Rady Children's continues to add programs to help educate parents and kids on safety, saying even one child's life that's lost is one too many.

Hargis is teaming up with local skateboarding shops to help spread the word on the importance of wearing helmets.

The review of 2015 cases released Thursday shows death by drowning is also a major problem among children in San Diego.

In 2015, seven children died from drowning. Three of those deaths occurred in the month of August.

Rady Children’s Hospital also offers programs to help educate parents and children on the importance of water safety.

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