Helmet use linked to more arm and hand injuries in motorcycle crash patients, not less

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Maybe parents are right to bristle when their infatuated offspring brings home a motorcycle rider: Despite only making up 10% of vehicles on U.S. roads, motorcycle riders comprise 40% of all traffic accident trauma patients. It's risky business—even, it appears, when you do the right thing and wear a helmet. A new study published in the Open Access journal SICOT-J has found that, while it protects from the most severe injuries, wearing a helmet during a crash is associated with more arm and hand injuries.

Arm and hand injuries constitute 35% of all motorcycle injuries and patients often need more rehabilitation than with other types of , raising questions around the cost of care. The current study, led by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, sought to determine the frequency of these injuries under two specific circumstances: when the rider was helmeted and when the rider was intoxicated.

The findings were surprising. While sober riders accumulated significantly lower hospital costs from shorter stays and less , they were more likely than their intoxicated counterparts to have broken arms and hands. Helmet-wearing patients, too, were more likely than non-helmeted patients to sustain this kind of injury. This was despite the fact that helmet-wearing patients arrived at the hospital with less overall.

Part of the puzzle is that only hospitalized riders were included in the study. After a crash, fewer helmet wearers generally need hospitalization, and intoxicated and non-helmeted riders are much more likely to die at the scene. But the results might also be a consequence of how different riders fall during the crash in an attempt to protect themselves.

The study shows that to limit all kinds of injury—not just the most severe head injuries—a fuller understanding of motorcycle crashes and protective equipment is needed. Until then, getting on a motorcycle could be a rougher and more expensive ride than it needs to be.

More information: Erin Cravez et al. Motorcycle crashes and upper extremity trauma, SICOT-J (2021). DOI: 10.1051/sicotj/2021007

Provided by SciencePOD
Citation: Helmet use linked to more arm and hand injuries in motorcycle crash patients, not less (2021, April 2) retrieved 26 February 2024 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-helmet-linked-arm-injuries-motorcycle.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Fewer cervical spine injuries seen with motorcycle helmet use


Feedback to editors