It should come as no suprise that a site dedicated to motorcycle safety would be in favour of helmet use. One of the often-cited arguments against them (together with freedom of choice and limit of vision), however, is that they offer no protection against Cervical Spine Injury, or CSI. Some claim that they even exacerbate this problem.
A team of researchers in Wisconsin recently set about investigating these claims. They reviewed the charts of 1,061 patients who had been injured in motorcycle crashes and treated at a single Level 1 trauma center in Wisconsin between January, 2010, and January, 2015. They found that 323 (30.4%) of those patients were wearing helmets at the time of the crash and 738 (69.6%) were not. At least one CSI was sustained by 7.4% percent of the riders wearing a helmet and 15.4% of those not wearing one.
There were no significant differences between groups (helmeted vs. un-helmeted riders) with respect to other types of cervical spine injuries that were sustained: nerve root injury, cervical strain, or cord contusion.
When asked about the findings, Dr. Nathaniel P. Brooks, co-author, stated, “Our study suggests that wearing a motorcycle helmet is a reasonable way to limit the risk of injury to the cervical spine in a motorcycle crash.”
According to the American National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates, wearing helmets saved the lives of 1,859 motorcycle riders in 2016; an additional 802 lives could have been saved if every motorcyclist had worn them.
The findings from the study are published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.
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