New Study Finds Motorcycle Injuries Vary with Helmet Use
Details of the Motorcycle Helmet Study
Researchers have known for years that helmets decreased death and injuries from motorcycle accidents, but, until now, whether or not helmets affect other body parts besides the head has not been studied.
Data used to conduct the study included national statistics from 2007 to 2010 on almost 86,000 people with motorcycle-related trauma. Particular attention was given to the number and extent of injuries to the head, neck, torso, spine, and extremities.
The study found that compared to non-helmeted riders, people who wore helmets were half as likely to end up with head injuries, less likely to die, and more likely to have injuries to the chest and extremities.
There was not found to be a difference in the time people spent in the hospital recovering from their injuries.
Reasons Behind the Increased Risk of Bodily Injury
There could be multiple reasons for these findings, one being that helmeted riders are more likely to survive high-force crashes. As such, they are listed as “injured” instead of as “fatalities.”
Dr. Adil Haider of the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston was not involved in the study, but stated “the fact that injury patterns are different makes a lot of sense, because the helmets are going to help you survive… A lot of people have all these torso injuries because their head is saved.”
Another explanation, written by Dr. Jeff Lastfogel of Indiana University who lead the research team, could be that helmeted riders feel more secure and end up driving at higher speeds, causing greater bodily injury in the event of a crash.
Authors of the study wrote that the loosened restrictions on helmets in some states helped them to study how wearing helmets could influence other injuries. Despite the findings, researchers note that the benefits of wearing protective gear like a helmet far outweigh the increased risk of bodily injury.