Motorcycle helmets lower risk of cervical spine injury: study

February 17, 2011

Baltimore – Use of motorcycle helmets not only dramatically reduces the number of brain injuries and deaths from crashes, but also appears to be associated with a lower risk of cervical spine injury, according to new research released Feb. 8 by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

According to a study abstract, researchers analyzed data from the National Trauma Data Bank on more than 40,000 motorcycle collisions between 2002 and 2006. Researches said the analysis debunks a popular myth that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle can be detrimental during a motorcycle crash due to effects on the neck from helmet weight. Findings show that helmeted riders were 22 percent less likely to suffer cervical spine injury than riders without helmets.

Mandatory helmet laws for all motorcyclists exist in 20 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Researchers concluded re-enactment of helmet laws should be considered in states that have repealed their mandatory helmet use laws in the past 15 years. The study was published Jan. 12 online in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.