It should come as no surprise, but a new study shows wearing a bicycle helmet significantly decreases the risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury or death from a crash.
Researchers from the University of Arizona found that helmet-wearing cyclists are 58 percent less likely to experience severe traumatic brain injury, according to findings presented at the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.
The team used data from the 2012 National Trauma Data Bank of the American College of Surgeons to evaluate approximately 6,300 individuals who had experienced a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle-related accident.
The authors say only around 25 percent of those cyclists were wearing helmets.
“We know for a fact that helmets help you prevent head bleeds in case you get into a bicycle-related accident,” Dr. Ansab Haider, a research fellow at the University of Arizona and one of the study’s authors, said in a press release. “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?”
According to the authors of the study, the answer is yes. In a news release, lead author Dr. Bellal Joseph said, “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.”
The study also found helmet usage varied by age. The group least likely to wear a helmet while cycling were individuals aged 10 to 20, with usage increasing with every decade of age until 70, when the rate fell. The results also indicate females are significantly more likely to wear helmets than males.
The researchers say they hope their findings will encourage more cyclists to wear helmets, as well as inspire the development of better helmets and the enactment of new helmet laws.
“That’s where future efforts need to focus in on — making helmets that really make a difference,” Joseph said. “Ultimately, the important message is patient care and how we can make our patients safer and more protected. We need to take this data and take it to the next level and move forward with policy and injury prevention, especially for the younger age groups.”