Do helmets really prevent traumatic brain injuries? You might have heard before that wearing a helmet will not matter much in a high-speed impact. But before you forgo putting on a helmet for your next motorcycle trip or even a bike ride, you may want to reconsider.
No matter the excuses you make up to justify not wearing a helmet, consider this: helmets protect you from a traumatic brain injury.
When your brain suffers a traumatic impact, it can result in severe, long-term injuries. You may have a minor concussion or suffer a skull fracture. Even an injury that seems trivial could have permanent behavioral or cognitive effects. You might experience memory loss, have difficulty sleeping, be unable to focus at work or school, and suffer from unexplained headaches or mood swings.
Studies to Consider
A major study concluded that the use of bike helmets around the globe reduced the risk of serious injury by almost 70 percent. That is too significant a number to ignore.
The study also found that neck injuries were reduced and bicycle riders who wear a helmet reduce the chance of dying in an accident by 65 percent.
What about the Studies Contradicting These Statements?
Those opposed to wearing helmets will often cite the infamous BMJ article that questions explicitly if helmets do prevent injury or death. What many forget about this article is that it focuses on the social pressures and emotion involved in the use of a helmet. In the article, they do not say that helmets are bad or useless, but instead focus on factors like:
- Other Injuries – These articles focus on other injuries that the rider sustains, which they then use to justify not wearing a helmet. The riders’ head and neck were protected, and they suffered injuries that were not associated with traumatic brain injury.
- Cautious Factors – One thing to note is that a person who wears a helmet might not be as careful as a person not wearing a helmet. It is normal to assume that you are protected. Therefore, you might take more risks on your bike, which could cause an accident.
- Behavioral Responses – When people are forced by law to wear helmets, they may not do so correctly. They may also notice that drivers are riskier around them because the driver assumes a person wearing a helmet is safe.
- Other Countries – Most articles refuting the use of a helmet are focusing on other countries. While it is true that Denmark and the Netherlands have lower injury rates without helmets, they also have infrastructure that prevents bicycle accidents. In addition, they have a culture of routine cycling where risk-taking is not a concern and laws are in place specifically to protect riders.
- Lives Saved versus Injuries Mitigated – Most studies that state helmets do nothing are focusing more on the number of lives saved versus injuries mitigated. While a helmet may not prevent a concussion, it reduces the risk of a direct impact to the brain (such as a skull fracture) – thus, preventing more severe trauma.
The Science Is Clear
Consider the science behind helmets and what makes them useful before dismissing their importance.
While legislation might vary, the physics do not.
You do not need a randomized or controlled study to know that a parachute makes sense when jumping from an airplane, and you do not need a study to tell you that helmets offer protection.
When you consider the principles of physics, you can quickly see how a helmet provides you with protection. Helmets, even in their basic form, prevent abrasions and wounds to the skull. Furthermore, they are designed to absorb an impact.
Think about it. Construction workers wear hard hats to protect themselves from falling equipment, bumps, and trips. Eggs you buy in the store are sold in protective containers to keep them from jarring and cracking. Military soldiers wear helmets in the field to protect their heads.
Helmets can reduce the risk of a severe brain injury like a protective container saves an egg. That container provides a tight nest that absorbs impact, keeping the delicate shell and egg center intact. Helmets work similarly. Your skull might be tougher than the shell of an egg, but still fragile when it comes to an impact between your skull and the pavement.
Your helmet absorbs that impact, taking it away from the skull. While the jarring of the accident could cause a minor concussion, you are less likely to suffer from a skull fracture or penetrating injury – which carries a high risk of fatality.
Wearing the Right Helmet Matters
While helmets save lives, wearing the right helmet matters just as much. If you are not wearing a proper helmet, it will not provide you with the same protections.
Know the Type of Helmet for the Type of Activity
Helmets are not created the same. Some helmets are designed for a specific use. In this case, it would not protect you if you were to use it outside of the manufacturer’s guidelines. Review the instructions and see what activities the helmet is approved for before assuming it is a universal option.
The Helmet Must Fit
For the best protection, you need a helmet that fits properly. A helmet should:
- have a comfortable, yet snug fit.
- have a buckle that keeps the helmet from moving or coming off.
- have a system that makes it easy to adjust, but not lose its settings once you have adjusted it.
- have a fit that ensures it does not move from side-to-side or front-to-back.
- sit evenly on top of your head, not block your field of vision, and not expose the forehead too far.
Consider Children’s Helmets Cautiously
A child’s helmet requires more consideration than an adult helmet. Have your child try on the helmet before assuming that the recommended age group is the right fit for them. Also, once your child has a helmet, be firm and enforce helmet habits. One of the best ways to ensure your child wears a helmet is to do so yourself – leading by example.
Did You Suffer from a TBI?
If someone causes serious injuries or a TBI in an accident, they may be financially liable for those damages. When you or a loved one suffers from a TBI, the costs can be overwhelming. Not only will you have medical bills, but you will also have the long-term damages associated with a traumatic injury.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.