• Bicycles, Helmets and Head Injuries

    Head injury is the most common cause of death and serious disability in bicycle- related crashes.  Head injury accounts for 62% of bicycle-related deaths.  In addition, approximately 33% of all bicycle-related emergency department visits and 67% of all bicycle-related hospital admissions involve head injuries.


    Approximately 7% of brain injuries are bicycle-related.  Among survivors of nonfatal head injuries, the effects of the injury can be profound, disabling, and longlasting.  Even after minor head injuries, persons may experience persistent neurologic symptoms (e.g., headache, dizziness, reduced memory, increased irritability, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and emotional instability). These symptoms are sometimes referred to as the "postconcussional syndrome".   . Rates for bicycle-related head injury have been higher for males than females in all age groups; the rates were highest among males 5-15 years of age.


    Nearly 90% of deaths from bicycle-related head injury result from collisions with motor vehicles.  However, motor vehicle collisions cause less than 25% of the nonfatal bicycle-related head injuries that are treated in emergency departments.  Excluding collisions with motor vehicles, common causes of nonfatal bicycle-related head injuries include falls, striking fixed objects, and collisions with other bicycles.

    The implementation of effective bicycle helmet programs could have a substantial impact on rates for fatal and nonfatal bicycle-related head injury .   If a presumed helmet-use rate of 10% were to increase to 100% (i.e., universal helmet use), an average of 500 fatal and 151,400 nonfatal bicycle-related head injuries could be prevented each year.

    SOURCE: MMWR 44(16);325 DATE: Apr 28, 1995  In the article "Injury Control Recommendations: Bicycle  Helmets,"