Using a helmet while riding a bike will dramatically reduce the risk of a brain injury, but unfortunately, it doesn’t eliminate it. Bicyclists can still sustain a traumatic brain injury in an accident even while wearing a bike helmet.
While a bicycle helmet cannot prevent a brain injury, they reduce the risk of a serious brain injury by as much as 52 percent. As a result, injured cyclists are less likely to require brain surgery, plus there is a 44 percent lower risk of death. Researchers also have found that helmets lower the odds of a facial fracture by 31 percent. However, the area around the eyes has the most protection since helmets do not shield the lower part of the face.
Despite these findings, less than half of all bicycle riders wear helmets. Mainly because they are uncomfortable, not socially acceptable, or do not believe they are necessary. A study published in the journal Brain Injury analyzed 76,032 cycling injuries between 2002 and 2012 and found that 78 percent of adult cyclists and 88 percent of young riders who suffered head and neck injuries were not wearing bicycle helmets.
A brain injury from a bicycle accident can affect a person’s life for years. Mild brain injuries typically resolve themselves within days or weeks following an accident, but in many severe cases, bicyclists can no longer care for themselves or live independently. They often need long-term, live-in care to help them perform basic daily tasks. Depending on the level of treatment required, the lifetime medical costs and living expenses can range anywhere from $85,000 up to $4 million. Additionally, these estimates do not include loss of income, employee benefits, and productivity. However, even if the brain injury is mild, it will often cost upwards of $15,000 for medical care and ongoing rehabilitation to ensure a full recovery.
Brain injuries can cause a wide variety of symptoms, but some common signs to watch out for are:
Any time you hit your head in a bicycle accident, you should be examined by a medical professional. It is possible to have delayed symptoms, and a bruise, tear, bleeding, or swelling in the brain can be life-threatening.
Bicyclists should not rely on helmets alone to protect them from a brain injury while riding. It is also important to:
Lastly, follow the rules of the road. Be sure to stop when appropriate (e.g., at stop signs or red lights) and yield to pedestrians when necessary. If you do experience a brain injury due to a bicycle accident, please reach out to a San Diego brain injury attorney.