Helmets Reduce Risk of Serious Injury
Bicycle helmets reduce risk of serious head injury by nearly 70%, study finds
Posted on 30.09.2016
A major study of bike helmet use around the world from more than 64,000 cyclists has found helmets reduce the risks of a serious head injury by nearly 70%.
The study also found neck injuries are not associated with helmet use and cyclists who wear helmets reduce their chance of a fatal head injury by 65%.
The compulsory wearing of bike helmets in Australia has long been a source of frustration for some cyclists, who argue it reduces participation rates. Previous studies have indicated helmet use encourages risk-taking behaviour or does not reduce serious injury to the brain.
But a comprehensive review by Australian statisticians Jake Olivier and Prudence Creighton from the University of New South Wales that drew together data from more than 40 separate studies found helmet use was associated with dramatically reduced odds of head injuries.
The findings were presented in Finland this week at Safety 2016, the world conference on injury prevention and safety promotion.
Olivier’s findings were particularly significant for serious or fatal head injuries and found the reduction was greater for these kinds of more serious injuries.
“Helmet use is associated with odds reductions of 51% for head injury, 69% for serious head injury, 33% for face injury and 65% for fatal head injury. Injuries to the neck were rare and not associated with helmet use,” the study found.
“These results suggest that strategies to increase the uptake of bicycle helmets should be considered along with other injury prevention strategies as part of a comprehensive cycling safety plan.”
The researchers cautioned that helmets were not a “panacea for cycling injury” and did not eliminate head or face injuries or offer protection to other parts of cyclists’ bodies. But it does make the case more difficult for those who oppose mandatory helmet wearing, they said.
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