Motorcycle Crashes a Major Cause of Brain Injury in Youths

But youth-specific helmet laws less effective than universal helmet laws at preventing TBI

MONDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Motorcycle crashes are a substantial cause of hospitalization and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adolescents, but helmet laws that target only younger riders are less effective than universal helmet laws in reducing TBI, according to a pair of studies published online Nov. 15 in Pediatrics.

Harold Weiss, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues analyzed hospital discharge data from the 2006 Kids' Inpatient Database to determine the scope of motorcycle-related injuries and TBIs among subjects aged 12 to 20 years. The researchers found that motorcycle-related crashes accounted for 3 percent of injury hospitalizations and 5 percent of TBI diagnoses among youths. For those suffering a TBI, there was a 24 percent probability of long-term disability.

In a second study, Weiss and colleagues used data from the 2005 to 2007 State Inpatient Databases of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project to compare the incidence of TBI in younger riders in states with youth-specific and universal helmet laws. The study found that serious TBI in youths was 38 percent higher in states requiring helmets only for those under 21 than in states with universal helmet requirements.

"States with youth-specific laws had an increased risk of TBI that required hospitalization, serious and severe TBI, TBI-related disability, and in-hospital death among the youth they are supposed to protect. The only method known to keep motorcycle-helmet use high among youth is to adopt or maintain universal helmet laws," the authors write.

Abstract - Motorcycle Accidents & TBIs
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Abstract - Helmet Laws
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