Rethinking bicycle helmets as a preventive tool: a 4-year review of bicycle injuries
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- Joseph, B., Pandit, V., Zangbar, B. et al. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg (2014) 40: 729. doi:10.1007/s00068-014-0453-0
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Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of disability in bicycle riders. Preventive measures including bicycle helmet laws have been highlighted; however, its protective role has always been debated. The aim of this study was to determine the utility of bicycle helmets in prevention of intra-cranial hemorrhage. We hypothesized that bicycle helmets are protective and prevent the development of intra-cranial hemorrhage.
We performed a 4-year (2009–2012) retrospective cohort analysis of all the patients who presented with traumatic brain injury due to bicycle injuries to our level 1 trauma center. We compared helmeted and non-helmeted bicycle riders for differences in the patterns of injury, need for intensive care unit admissions and mortality.
A total of 864 patients were reviewed of which, 709 patients (helmeted = 300, non-helmeted = 409) were included. Non-helmeted bicycle riders were more likely to be young (p < 0.001) males (p = 0.01). There was no difference in the median ISS between the two groups (p = 0.3). Non-helmeted riders were more likely to have a skull fracture (p = 0.01) and a scalp laceration (p = 0.01) compared to the helmeted riders. There was no difference in intra-cranial hemorrhage between the two groups (p = 0.1). Wearing a bicycle helmet was not independently associated (p = 0.1) with development of intra-cranial hemorrhage.
Bicycle helmets may have a protective effect against external head injury but its protective role for intra-cranial hemorrhage is questionable. Further studies assessing the protective role of helmets for intra-cranial hemorrhage are warranted.