A group of neurological surgeons at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics in Madison recently conducted new research concerning the use of motorcycle helmets which was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. The new findings discount the old notion that helmets fail to protect against spinal injuries and other injuries in motorcycle accidents.
Traditional reasons cited for not wearing a safety helmet
Many motorcycle enthusiasts are not warm to the idea of wearing helmets while riding. Some of the reasons offered against any proposal to mandate motorcycle helmet use include preventing any limitations on vision, freedom of choice, enjoying the open air experience of riding without a helmet, and the perceived elevated risk of incurring a cervical spine injury (CSI). The last reason cited has been believed by some based on the assumption that upon impact the weight added by the helmet can increase the torque on the cervical spine.
The University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinic’s study addresses the risk to the cervical spine. Many studies have preceded this study regarding helmet use and CSI in motorcycle accidents. Most of the studies have found zero negative biomechanical risk to the cervical spine as well as no protective effect provided by helmet use. Only a small number of reports claimed an increased risk of CSI when wearing a helmet during a crash. The researchers conducting the University of Wisconsin study postulated that the use of helmet protection during a motorcycle crash may provide some measure of protection to the wearer and is not linked with an increased risk of CSI. The researchers provided case evidence to back up their claim.
Statistics supporting the use of helmets
The study evaluated over 1000 people who sustained injuries in motorcycle crashes and received treatment at Wisconsin trauma centers over the course of five years. The researchers found that 70 percent of the patients were not wearing a helmet and 30 percent were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Among riders not wearing a helmet, about 15 percent sustained at least one CSI. This compares with 7 percent of helmet wearers who suffered a CSI. As well, about 11 percent of motorcyclists who were not helmeted incurred a cervical spine fracture as opposed to 5 percent of those wearing a helmet at the time of impact.
Illinois is a state that does not require riders to wear a helmet. However, as reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
Evaluating the evidence, it makes sense to wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle. This is especially true in the face of new research indicating a helmet protects not only against potential traumatic brain injury, but also reduces the possibility of suffering a serious spinal injury or fracture.
If you have sustained injuries from a motorcycle crash due to the negligence of another party on the roadway, our Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys at Gainsberg Law can work on your behalf to determine liability and fight for the financial recovery you need at this time. We have the resources and experience to hold those at fault responsible for your injuries and help you secure the compensation you deserve. To arrange a free appointment about your case, call us today at 312-600-9585 or send us a request through our contact form.