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Helmet use has long been a controversial subject for bicyclists. Many feel that bicycle helmets do not offer any real protection, because of their design. But, a recently published study tells a different story. Researchers found that, when head injuries were involved, bicycle helmets reduced the risk of severe brain injury, facial fractures, and death. It also revealed some interesting details about who is more likely to wear a helmet.
The Helmet Study and Brain Injuries
Researchers from the University of Arizona analyzed the 2012 National Trauma Data Bank and looked at 6,267 cases of patients with bleeding on the brain caused by bicycle accidents. 52.4% of those patients suffered severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and nearly 3% died from their injuries. Only 25% of the injured bicyclists had been wearing helmets. The researchers found that helmet use reduced the severity of injuries in brain injured bicyclists. Helmet wearers were:
59% less likely to die
58% less likely to suffer severe TBI
61% less likely to have brain surgery
26% less likely to suffer facial fractures
Helmets do not prevent all brain injuries in bicyclists, but the study shows that they do offer protection and can minimize the severity of TBI and increase the odds of surviving a bicycle crash.
Who Wore Helmets, and Who Didn’t
According to the study, helmeted riders were more likely to be insured, white females. Teenagers and tweens, aged 10 to 20, were among the least likely to wear helmets while senior citizens, aged 60 to 70, were the most likely to wear helmets.
Reducing Bicycle-Related TBI and Death in the US
According to the study there were about 494,000 emergency room visits and 900 bicycle-related deaths in the U.S., in 2013. According to the U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Report of 2014, 34% of Americans ages three and up had ridden a bike at least once in the past year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that less than half of bicyclists in the U.S. wear helmets.
The authors of the helmet study recommend that, in light of their results, bicycle helmets should be promoted by injury prevention programs, with an emphasis on encouraging teens to start wearing them.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident, you can learn more about your rights and how you can recover damages for your losses by searching our directory to find a lawyer near you.