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Study Shows Traditional Bike Helmets Increase Risk of a Broken Jaw

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A recent study conducted at the Hannover Medical School in Germany, suggests that traditional bike helmets can increase the risk of broken jaw during an accident. 

After analyzing crash data from some 5,350 bicycle accidents between 1999 and 2011, the researchers discovered that a helmet presented no significant change in mid-face fractures (nasal bone, the orbital bone, the zygomatic bone, and the maxilla), yet the mandibular (jawline) had a rate of fracture seemingly enhanced by a helmet. In fact, according to the study, 8% of riders involved in a crash experience a fractured mandibular.

The researchers demonstrated that speed plays a crucial part in determining the likelihood of injury, wherein all the riders who sustained facial injuries occurred a speeds of approximately 15 miles per hour or higher. 

Furthermore, a significant correlation was found between the patient’s age and the incidence of a fracture with an increase of fractures occurring  in older riders. 

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In conclusion, the study sates, “higher age of cyclists and increasing speed of the accident opponent significantly increase the likelihood of sustaining facial fractures. The use of bicycle helmets does not significantly reduce the incidence of mid-facial fractures, while being correlated with an even increased incidence of mandibular fractures.”

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
The effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets in preventing head injuries is well- documented. Recent studies differ regarding the effectiveness of bicycle helmets in preventing facial injuries, especially those of the mid-face and the mandible.

OBJECTIVES:
The present study was conducted to determine the protective effect of a bicycle helmet in preventing mid-face and mandibular fractures.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Data from an accident research unit were analyzed to collect technical collision details (relative collision speed, type of collision, collision partner, and use of a helmet) and clinical data (type of fracture).

RESULTS:
Between 1999 and 2011, 5,350 bicycle crashes were included in the study. Of these, 175 (3.3%) had fractures of the mid-face or mandible. In total, 228 mid-face or mandibular fractures were identified. A significant correlation was found between age and relative collision speed, and the incidence of a fracture. While no significant correlation was found between the use of a helmet and the incidence of mid-facial fractures, the use of a helmet was correlated with a significantly increased incidence of mandibular fractures.

CONCLUSIONS:
Higher age of cyclists and increasing speed of the accident opponent significantly increase the likelihood of sustaining facial fractures. The use of bicycle helmets does not significantly reduce the incidence of mid-facial fractures, while being correlated with an even increased incidence of mandibular fractures.

 

You can read the full study here. 

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