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September 19, 2019
Photography by Victor Xok/Unsplash
Two new research papers published this month have provided further evidence for the value of bicycle helmets.
Both studies analysed data from a large numbers of cyclists who had been injured while riding. Both concluded that wearing a helmet is correlated with a reduction in injury severity.
The first study, published in the journal Brain Injury, considered data from 76,032 injured cyclists in the USA, as recorded in the 2002-2012 National Trauma Data Bank. The researchers found that just 22% of cyclists with a head or neck injury were wearing a helmet at the time of their injury.
The authors considered the association between helmet use and the severity of the riders’ injuries, the length of time they stayed in hospital (HLOS), time spent in intensive care (ICULOS), and the number of riders that died as a result of their injuries. In doing so they found that “wearing a helmet significantly reduces injury severity, HLOS, ICULOS, and mortality”.
The researchers concluded that “more effort is needed to enhance helmet use among at-risk bicycle riders.”
The second study, published in BMJ Open, took data from the NHS England Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) Database and considered riders presenting to hospital with major cycling-related injuries. Of the 6,621 injured cyclists considered in the analysis, 61.5% were wearing helmets at the time of their injury.
The researchers found that helmet use was associated with a reduction in severe traumatic brain injury, death within 30 days of the injury, the need for intensive care, and “neurosurgical intervention.” The authors made specific note of a reduction in traumatic brain injuries and facial injuries among riders who wore helmets.
The researchers suggest that their study “provides a strong association between the wearing of a cycle helmet and a significant reduction in brain injury.” They argue that it “should act as a compelling argument for cycle helmet use.”