TUESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Motorcycle helmets reduce
the risk of spine injuries, says a study that challenges a widely
held belief that the weight of motorcycle helmets increases the
risk of neck injuries.
"We are debunking a popular myth that wearing a helmet while
riding a motorcycle can be detrimental during a motorcycle crash,"
study leader Dr. Adil H. Haider, an assistant professor of surgery
at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a
Hopkins news release.
Haider and colleagues reviewed U.S. National Trauma Databank
information on more than 40,000 motorcycle collisions between 2002
and 2006, and found that riders wearing helmets were 22 percent
less likely to suffer cervical spine injury than those without
The researchers also found that helmet wearers were 65 percent
less likely to suffer traumatic brain injury and 37 percent less
likely to die than riders without helmets.
The findings were released online in advance of publication in
an upcoming print issue of the
Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
The investigators said their study provides the strongest
evidence yet that helmets significantly reduce the risk of cervical
spine injury, which can result in paralysis.
"Using this new evidence, legislators should revisit the need
for mandatory helmet laws. There is no doubt that helmets save
lives and reduce head injury. And now we know they are also
associated with a decreased risk of cervical spine injury," Haider
Over the past 15 years, a number of states have repealed their
mandatory motorcycle helmet laws after lobbying from anti-helmet
activists who often cite a small, 25-year-old study that suggested
that the weight of a motorcycle helmet increased the risk of spine
injuries. However, many experts say the study used flawed
"Additionally, helmet technology has significantly improved
since that time -- now helmets are much lighter but even sturdier
and more protective," Haider said.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers
motorcycle safety advice.