Helmets have been shown to be effective in preventing head injuries in motorcyclists, but some studies have suggested that helmets may cause injury to parts of the head or neck because they add mass to the head.
This study examined patterns of fatal injuries in helmeted and unhelmeted motorcyclists.
Coroner reports, hospital records, and police reports for motorcyclists fatally injured in crashes from July 1, 1988 through October 31, 1989 were examined. All injury diagnoses were abstracted and coded to the 1990 version of The Abbreviated Injury Scale and the International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision.
Cerebral injury, intracranial hemorrhage, face, skull vault, and cervical spine injuries were more likely to be found in fatally injured unhelmeted motorcyclists than in helmeted motorcyclists.
These results expand earlier reports showing that helmets provide protection for all types and locations of head injuries, and show that they are not associated with increased neck injury occurrence.
From the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.
This work was supported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center.
The opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Address for reprints: Jess F. Kraus, MPH, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California-Los Angeles, Center for Health Sciences, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Room 76-078, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772.