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Bicycle helmets reduce brain trauma in accidents

According to a new University of Arizona study, bicycle riders in New Mexico and across the U.S. reduce their odds of a severe traumatic brain injury by 58 percent when they wear a helmet. The research was presented at the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons on Oct. 8.

Researchers used the 2012 National Trauma Data Bank to analyze the records of 6,267 patients who suffered a TBI after a bicycle accident. Of that group, approximately 25 percent were wearing helmets. The authors of the study said previous research already showed helmets reduce head bleeds in bicycle accidents. However, in cases where a head bleed occurred, researchers wanted to find out if helmets reduce the severity of brain trauma.

Researchers discovered that TBI patients wearing a helmet reduced their risk of severe brain trauma by 58 percent and their risk of death by 59 percent. Helmets also reduced the odds of a craniotomy by 61 percent and facial fractures by 26 percent. Helmets prevented facial fractures to the upper face, such as around the eyes, but did nothing to protect the nose and jaw from fractures.

According to the study, older bike riders are more likely to wear helmets than younger bike riders. The authors of the study plan to lobby for stricter helmet laws and push for better helmet designs, such as those that could protect the lower face.

Unfortunately, many bicycle riders are fatally injured when they are struck by another vehicle, even if they are wearing protective headgear. The surviving family members of a rider who was killed by a negligence motorist may want to speak with an attorney about the advisability of filing a wrongful death action against the at-fault party seeking available damages.

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