Wearing a helmet may significantly reduce the odds of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a bicycle accident.

That’s the suggestion from researchers at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who performed an analysis of the 2012 National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) of the American College of Surgeons. They specifically looked at records from 6,267 patients who experienced a TBI after a bicycle accident.

After careful study, the researchers found that the patients who wore a helmet and experienced a TBI after their bicycle accident had 58% reduced odds of severe TBI, compared to the patients who did not wear a helmet. Among the patients studied, just over 25% were wearing helmets at the time of their accident.

The helmeted patients also had a 59% reduced odds of death, 61% reduced odds of the need for a craniotomy (an operation to remove part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain), and a 26% reduced odds of facial fractures, according to a media release from the American College of Surgeons.

These findings were presented recently during the 2015 clinical congress of the American College of Surgeons.

“If you are severely injured and you were wearing a helmet, you are going to fare better than if you were not,” says Bellal Joseph, MD, FACS, the study’s lead author, in the release.

“When you hone in on that severe group of people who actually developed a brain injury, and then look at how they did, the helmet really made a difference,” he adds.

Joseph and co-author Ansab Haider, MD, also looked at the impact of age and gender on bicycle accidents where the TBI occurred.

They note in the release that the lowest incidence of helmet use occurred among the 10- to 20-year-old age group. The likelihood of helmet use increased every 10 years, until age 70, when the likelihood went back down again.

They also found that females are more likely to wear helmets than males.

Another finding, according to the release, is that among the patients they studied, the likelihood of facial fractures was higher for those who weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Haider notes in the release that helmet use helped prevent fractures to the upper part of the face, including the area around the eyes and the orbital lobe. However, helmet use wasn’t as effective at preventing fractures to the lower part of the face, such as mandibular jaw or nasal fractures.

Haider and Joseph state in the release that their next step will be creating injury prevention programs to increase helmet use among bicyclists, to manufacture better helmets, and to develop and enforce stricter laws for helmet use.

“We need to take this data and take it to the next level and move forward with policy and injury prevention, especially for the younger age groups,” Joseph concludes.

[Source(s): American College of Surgeons, EurekAlert]