Free Press Journal

Bike helmets protect against severe brain injury

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Washington: Wearing a bicycle helmet significantly reduces the risk of serious brain injury and odds of death from a crash, according to a new US study. Helmeted bicycle riders have a 58 per cent reduced odds of severe traumatic brain injury after an accident compared to their non-helmeted counterparts, researchers said.

The researchers performed an analysis using the 2012 National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) of the American College of Surgeons of US, analysing records of 6,267 patients who had a traumatic brain injury after a bicycle related accident. Among the group of patients, just over 25 per cent were wearing helmets, researchers said.

“We know for a fact that helmets help you prevent head bleeds in case you get into a bicycle-related accident,” said coauthor Ansab Haider, of University of Arizona in US. “But the real question was, if you get into a bicycle-related accident and end up with a head bleed, does helmet use somehow protect you?” Haider said.
The researchers found that among this group of patients – those who sustained traumatic brain injury after a bicycle related accident – the ones wearing helmets had a 58 per cent reduced odds of severe traumatic brain injury and a 59 per cent reduced odds of death.


Further, the use of helmets reduced by 61 per cent the odds of craniotomy (an operation to remove part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain) and facial fractures by 26 per cent.

“When you hone in on that severe group of people who actually developed a brain injury, and then look at how they did, the helmet really made a difference,” said lead author Bellal Joseph, from the University of Arizona.

The researchers also looked at the impact of age and gender on bicycle accidents where a traumatic brain injury occurred. “We tried to see how the pattern of helmet use varied over different age groups,” Haider said. “The lowest incidence of helmet use was seen in the age group of 10-20 years of age. But as we went up every 10 years, the likelihood of helmet use went up,” he said. Researchers said that the trend of helmet use increasing with age continued to rise with each decade of life, until the age of 70, when the rate went back down for the first time.

They also found that females are more likely to wear helmets than males. The researchers also found that in the patients they studied, the likelihood of facial fractures was higher for those who were not wearing a helmet.

Haider said that helmet use helped prevent fractures to the upper part of the face, including the area around the eyes, the orbital lobe. However, helmet use was not as effective at preventing fractures to the lower part of the face, such as mandibular jaw or nasal fractures.