The doctor or another health care professional has just advised you to buy a protective helmet because your child's seizures have been causing sudden drops or falls that may cause head injury. But what type of helmet is best for your child? Where you should you go to get one?
To determine the best type of helmet, begin by thinking about your child's seizure behaviors. If your child falls forward, a helmet with a face guard, face bar, or visor is needed. If your child falls backward, the back of the head needs protection. A good helmet also needs a chinstrap that can be adjusted so that it is snug but not uncomfortable. No matter what direction your child falls, the helmet should absorb the impact, so it will be useless if it does not remain securely on the head.
Not all types of helmets offer adequate protection. Bicycle helmets are comfortable and good-looking, but they do not offer the best protection for injuries from seizure activity. Coverage is insufficient in the back and on the sides of the head. When seizures cause forward falls, they do not protect the face, and if they are not adjusted properly, they move too much. Longevity of the helmet is another problem. With repeated hard falls, a bicycle helmet may crack.
Boxing helmets, made of soft leather, are comfortable but they offer no protection and do not allow adequate ventilation. Football helmets offer good protection but are large and uncomfortable to wear. Baseball batting helmets are loose-fitting and are made without a chinstrap, so they offer inadequate protection.
Suitable helmets are commercially available through sporting good stores, medical supply companies, and the rehabilitation departments of some hospitals. Hockey helmets are one of the best choices. They offer maximal protection, come in a variety of colors, fit all age groups (except infants) and can be purchased and fitted in any sporting goods store.
Other helmets are made especially to protect people with medical needs, including very small children. Some of them come in choices of style or color that may be more appealing to those who don't want to look like a hockey player. Lightweight, hard-foam helmets provide good protection. They may come in a wide variety of styles that can be customized for individuals with seizures. Custom-made infant-sized helmets sometimes can be ordered either through the rehabilitation department of a hospital or through the manufacturer.
Other features to look for in a soft, lightweight helmet are core components engineered specifically to absorb and dissipate energy, so the helmet is both protective and durable. This kind of helmet may be able to be machine washed and dried. Some come in many sizes, colors, and patterns to meet individual needs.