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Bicycle helmets: that's using your head.


Bicycling for exercise, as well as transportation purposes, has become increasingly popular in the United States. Unfortunately, so have bicycling-related head injuries and deaths--some 1,300 per year in the U.S.

A recent study has concluded, based on analyses of 235 cases of bicyclists with sustained head injuries, that helmets--the kind worn by men and women in bicycle races--"reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent." The study, conducted in Seattle, also states that bicycle riders "who do not wear helmets appear to be at a 6.6-fold greater risk of head injury and an 8.3-fold greater risk of brain injury than riders who do." Also, 68 percent of the severe injuries described in this study occurred in children less than 15 years of age.

The quality of the helmet is a significant factor in reducing the possibility of severe damage. Hard-shell helmets with polystyrene liners appear to provide the best protection. Helmets that bend, or those lacking a solid liner, provide inadequate protection against head or brain injury. (New England Journal of Medicine, May 25, 1989; 320:1362-7.)
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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