Objective: Helmets have been shown to be effective in preventing head injuries in motorcyclists, but some studies have suggested that helmets may cause injury to parts of the head or neck because they add mass to the head.
Design: This study examined patterns of fatal injuries in helmeted and unhelmeted motorcyclists.
Materials and methods: Coroner reports, hospital records, and police reports for motorcyclists fatally injured in crashes from July 1, 1988 through October 31, 1989 were examined. All injury diagnoses were abstracted and coded to the 1990 version of The Abbreviated Injury Scale and the International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision.
Main results: Cerebral injury, intracranial hemorrhage, face, skull vault, and cervical spine injuries were more likely to be found in fatally injured unhelmeted motorcyclists than in helmeted motorcyclists.
Conclusions: These results expand earlier reports showing that helmets provide protection for all types and locations of head injuries, and show that they are not associated with increased neck injury occurrence.