Objective: Rapid urbanization and motorization without corresponding increases in helmet usage have made traumatic brain injury due to road traffic accidents a major public health crisis in Cambodia. This analysis was conducted to quantify the impact of helmets on severity of injury, neurosurgical indication, and functional outcomes at discharge for motorcycle operators who required hospitalization for a traumatic brain injury following a road traffic accident in Cambodia.
Methods: The medical records of 491 motorcycle operators who presented to a major tertiary care center in Cambodia with traumatic brain injury were retrospectively analyzed using multivariate logistic regression.
Results: The most common injuries at presentation were contusions (47.0%), epidural hematomas (30.1%), subdural hematomas (27.9%), subarachnoid hemorrhages (12.4%), skull fractures (21.4%), and facial fractures (18.5%). Moderate-to-severe loss of consciousness was present in 36.3% of patients. Not wearing a helmet was associated with an odds ratio of 2.20 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.15-4.22) for presenting with moderate to severe loss of consciousness compared to helmeted patients. Craniotomy or craniectomy was indicated for evacuation of hematoma in 20.0% of cases, and nonhelmeted patients had 3.21-fold higher odds of requiring neurosurgical intervention (95% CI, 1.25-8.27). Furthermore, lack of helmet usage was associated with 2.72-fold higher odds of discharge with functional deficits (95% CI, 1.14-6.49). In total, 30.1% of patients were discharged with severe functional deficits.
Conclusions: Helmets demonstrate a protective effect and may be an effective public health intervention to significantly reduce the burden of traumatic brain injury in Cambodia and other developing countries with increasing rates of motorization across the world.
Keywords: Cambodia; Traumatic brain injury; helmet usage; road traffic accidents.