Reality or wishful thinking: do bicycle helmets prevent facial injuries?

Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2019 Sep;48(9):1235-1240. doi: 10.1016/j.ijom.2019.02.018. Epub 2019 Mar 13.


Standard bicycle helmets are designed to protect the cranial vault. Numerous studies have demonstrated the beneficial effect of standard bicycle helmets on craniocerebral trauma, but their protective effect on facial injuries remains unclear. Therefore, this study used data obtained by an accident research unit to investigate the protective effect of standard bicycle helmets on facial injuries. A total of 31,634 bicycle accidents were registered between 1999 and 2015; of these, 7004 met the study requirements. Demographic characteristics, technical information (relative collision speed, collision type, collision partner, helmet use), and clinical data (injury type) relating to these accidents were analyzed. Of all affected cyclists, 1005 (14.3%) had a facial injury (fracture and/or soft tissue injury). Bicycle helmets were worn in 11.8% of accidents. Of these, 75.4% involved males and 24.6% involved females. The bicycle helmet did not protect against facial injuries. Furthermore, sex and the type of collision partner were found to be risk factors for facial injuries. In the future, helmet designs should be modified to improve facial protection, and better education should be provided to the public regarding the benefits of bicycle helmets.

Keywords: bicycle helmet; cyclist; facial injury; midface fracture.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Bicycling
  • Craniocerebral Trauma*
  • Facial Injuries*
  • Female
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Male