How safe is your motorcycle helmet?

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2014 Mar;72(3):542-9. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2013.10.017. Epub 2013 Oct 31.


Purpose: Motorcycle crash helmets do not totally prevent head and facial trauma. The aim of this study was to investigate if protection offered by helmets differs according to helmet type.

Materials and methods: In this retrospective cohort study, outpatient records of motorcyclists were analyzed for the Facial Injury Severity Scale (FISS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), facial fractures, and helmet use. Statistical analysis was conducted using the Fisher and Bonferroni tests, bivariate regression analysis, and 1-way analysis of variance.

Results: There were 253 motorcyclists who sustained craniomaxillofacial injuries and were referred for outpatient treatment (men, 88.9%; mean age, 29.64 ± 11.6 yr); 60.1% had up to 9 years of formal education; 156 patients reported not using crash helmets, 51 were using open-face helmets, and 46 were using full-face helmets. The mean FISS score was significantly higher for unhelmeted riders compared with full-face helmet riders (P = .047), with no difference between unhelmeted riders and open-face helmet users (P = 1.00). Results for TBI were statistically greater for those wearing open-face helmets compared with full-face helmets (P = .035).

Conclusion: In this study, a large percentage of motorcyclists had facial fractures and TBI, and crash helmets did not always offer adequate protection against craniomaxillofacial injury, especially open-face helmets. Thus, further investigation into helmet types and quality of protection offered is recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Brazil
  • Cohort Studies
  • Equipment Design
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motorcycles*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety
  • Skull Fractures / prevention & control*
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult