Protective effect of different types of bicycle helmets

Traffic Inj Prev. 2003 Dec;4(4):285-90. doi: 10.1080/714040486.


The effectiveness of bicycle helmets in preventing head injuries is well documented. There are different opinions about the effectiveness of helmets in preventing face injuries, and few studies have analyzed the effect of different types of helmets. This study was performed to examine the effect of different helmet types to head and face injuries. The use of helmets was analyzed in cyclists with head or face injuries and compared with two control groups. The main control group was cyclists that had injuries not including the head or neck, and another control group was cyclists that had been involved in an accident, regardless of whether they had sustained any injury. Cross-table and logistic regression analyses were applied to analyze the protective effect of helmets. A total of 991 injured patients served as a basis for this study. Most of the accidents, (82%) were single accidents with no other persons involved. Of patients with injuries to the head, excluding face, 11.4% had been using hard shell helmets, and 9.6% had been using foam helmets at the time of the accident. Among the emergency room controls, the proportion of hard shell helmet users and foam helmet users was 26.4% and 11.4%, respectively. Compared to non-helmet users, this gave an odds ratio of 0.36 (CI = 0.21-0.60) for getting head injuries if the cyclists had been using hard shell helmets at the time of the injury, and 0.83 (CI = 0.41-1.67) for users of foam helmets. The odds ratio for getting face injuries was 0.90 (CI = 0.58-1.41) among users of hard shell helmets, and 1.87 (CI = 1.03-3.40) for users of foam helmets. The use of hard shell helmets reduced the risk of getting injuries to the head. Children less than nine years old that used foam helmets had an increased risk of getting face injuries. All bicyclists should be recommended to use hard shell bicycle helmets while cycling.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control*
  • Equipment Design
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Risk Factors