Mandatory bicycle helmet laws should be maintained and enforced as part of overall road safety strategies, according to a study outlined in a letter to the editor in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Dr Michael Dinh, Emergency Physician and Co-Director of the
Department of Trauma Services at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH),
Sydney, and co-authors reviewed a study conducted by the RPAH that summarised
long-term trends in cyclist head injuries and determined the odds of any skull
fracture or intracranial bleed associated with not wearing a helmet.
The study reviewed patients from 1991 to 2009 over the age
of 16 who were admitted to the hospital trauma unit suffering from head
injuries related to a bicycle incident on public roads. The number of cyclists
sustaining severe head injuries has remained consistently low over the long
term, with an apparent decline in the rate of severe head injuries in admitted
patients since 2005.
Dr Dinh said that among 287 patients for whom information
about helmet use was available between 2008 and 2010, non-helmet wearers had
five times higher odds of developing intracranial bleeding or sustaining a
skull fracture due to falling from a bicycle compared with helmet wearers.
"It is the opinion of the trauma service at the RPAH . . .
that mandatory bicycle helmet laws be maintained and enforced as part of
overall road safety strategies."
The Medical Journal of Australia
publication of the Australian Medical Association.