A prospective study of the impact of helmet usage on motorcycle trauma

Ann Emerg Med. 1991 Aug;20(8):852-6. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)81426-x.


Study objective: To determine the effect of the use of a motorcycle helmet on reducing the mortality, morbidity, and health care costs resulting from motorcycle crashes.

Design: A prospective, multicenter study of all eligible motorcycle crash victims.

Setting: The emergency departments of eight medical centers across the state of Illinois, including representatives from urban, rural, teaching, and community facilities.

Type of participants: All motorcycle crash victims presenting less than 24 hours after injury for whom helmet information was known. Data were collected from April 1 through October 31, 1988.

Measurements and main results: Fifty-eight of 398 patients (14.6%) were helmeted, and 340 (85.4%) were not. The nonhelmeted patients had higher Injury Severity Scores (11.9 vs 7.02), sustained head/neck injuries more frequently (41.7 vs 24.1%), and had lower Glasgow Coma Scores (13.73 vs 14.51). Twenty-five of the 26 fatalities were nonhelmeted patients. By logistic regression, the lack of helmet use was found to be a major risk factor for increased severity of injury. A 23% increase in health care costs was demonstrated for nonhelmeted patients (average charges $7,208 vs $5,852).

Conclusion: Helmet use may reduce the overall severity of injury and the incidence of head injuries resulting from motorcycle crashes. A trend toward higher health care costs was demonstrated in the nonhelmeted patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Cost Control
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / economics
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / therapy
  • Data Collection
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Illinois / epidemiology
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Motorcycles*
  • Neck Injuries
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / economics
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy