3 November, 2000
A British study has confirmed what Australian health and safety authorities have long known: wearing a bike helmet can significantly reduce your risk of head injury if you are involved in an accident.
The 4-year study, published in the British Medical Journal (28/10/00) by researchers at Imperial College, London, evaluated the number of emergency room admissions in English hospitals that could be attributed to cycling accidents. The participants were divided into three age categories: 6-10 years, 11-15 years and 16 years and over.
While the number of emergency admissions among cyclists did not alter over the 4 years, the number of injured cyclists taken to the emergency room with head injuries as the main diagnosis fell from 40 per cent to 28 per cent of admissions over the period of the study.
Serious head injuries were reduced in all age groups of the cyclists: in the 6-10 years age group by 9 per cent; in the 11-15 year category by 11 per cent; and in the 16 and over category by 13 per cent.
Unlike the situation in Australia, wearing a protective helmet while cycling is not compulsory in the United Kingdom. The researchers have recommended publicity campaigns should continue to encourage voluntary helmet wearing in the UK.
An accompanying editorial in the same issue of the British Medical Journal warned ‘Further delays in promoting the use of helmets will be measured in the number of lives ruined by the devastating consequences of preventable brain injury’.
Last Reviewed: 03 November 2000