According to researchers from the University of Arizona, helmeted cyclists have a 58 per cent reduced likelihood of suffering severe traumatic brain injury following a crash. These findings and others relating to cycle helmet use were recently presented at the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.
Earlier this week, Britain’s cycling minister, Robert Goodwill, reignited the forever smouldering helmet debate by saying that cyclists should be free to decide whether or not to wear one. Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe, echoed those sentiments later in the week. Both argue that mandatory helmet use would discourage people from cycling and thus have a broader adverse impact on public health.
The University of Arizona researchers see things differently however, advocating stricter laws for helmet use.
According to Medical Xpress, analysis was carried out on the 2012 National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) of the American College of Surgeons and involved the records of 6,267 patients who had suffered a traumatic brain injury following a bicycle related incident. Of those people, just over a quarter had been wearing helmets.
The researchers found that among this group of patients, the ones wearing helmets had a 58 per cent reduced likelihood of suffering severe traumatic brain injury and a 59 per cent reduced chance of being killed.
The use of a helmet was also said to reduce the odds of having to undergo a craniotomy (an operation to remove part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain) by 61 per cent and the odds of suffering a facial fracture by 26 per cent.
"If you are severely injured and you were wearing a helmet, you are going to fare better than if you were not," said Bellal Joseph, the lead study author. "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 authors said that efforts should be made to manufacture improved helmets.
"That's where future efforts need to focus in on—making helmets that really make a difference. 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."