Cycle helmets do protect against head injuries

October 26, 2000

Trends in serious head injuries among cyclists in England: analysis of routinely collected data

Editorial: Bicycle helmets: it's time to use them

The number of serious head injuries among cyclists of all ages has fallen as a result of increasing helmet use, despite doubts about the effectiveness of helmets, particularly for adults, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers at Imperial College London calculated the number of cyclists admitted to hospital with head injuries, as a percentage of total monthly admissions, between April 1991 and March 1995. The patients were divided into three age categories: junior (6-10 years), secondary (11-15 years), and adult (16 years and over). The authors found that numbers of emergency admissions among cyclists changed little over the four-year study period. However, the number admitted with head injuries fell from 40% to 28%. Each age group showed a significant reduction, add the authors: 9% among junior, 11% among secondary and 13% among adults.

These findings indicate that helmets are of benefit both to children and, contrary to popular belief, to adults, say the authors. Local publicity campaigns encouraging the voluntary wearing of helmets have been effective and should accompany national drives to promote cycling, they conclude.

Adrian Cook, Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK


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