Does Wearing a Bicycle Helmet Prevent Head Injuries?

March 2, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Does Wearing a Bicycle Helmet Prevent Head Injuries?

Bicycle Helmet Safety Reduces Head Injury Risk

For many cyclists, adults and children alike, wearing a helmet helps ensure safety when riding. Helmet use substantially decreases the risk of head injury in the event of an accident, from crashes with a car to unexpected tumbles off the bicycle. Unfortunately, relying solely on helmet use to protect against injury can create a false sense of security for riders. While helmet use decreases the odds of head injury, it does not eliminate the risk entirely. Cyclists can still suffer serious head injuries despite wearing a helmet.

By the Numbers: Bicycle Accident Head Injury Statistics

Wearing a helmet: riders know it as an important safety precaution, but does it really work? Statistics indicate that wearing a helmet is very worthwhile. For example, wearing a helmet:
  • Decreases the risk of serious head injury by half. When wearing a helmet, cyclists reduce their chances of sustaining serious head injuries by half, even if they sustain a head injury in an accident.
  • Decreases the risk of facial breaks. Many riders injure facial bones during their bicycle accidents. Broken facial bones are extremely painful and can lead to long-term disfigurement.
  • Decreases the risk of death due to head injuries. When cyclists sustain head injuries, those who wear helmets are less likely to die from their injuries than they would be if they had not been wearing a helmet.
  • Decreases the severity of head injuries. Wearing a helmet may decrease the severity of a head injury by as much as 88 percent. Decreased severity can mean a faster recovery and the ability to return to the quality of life lived before the accident, rather than living with lifelong ramifications from a single accident.
In general, the benefits of wearing a helmet conform to society's longheld belief that helmet use creates a significant decrease in injuries. Unfortunately, wearing a helmet doesn't eliminate the risk of injury entirely; even with a helmet, riders may suffer head injuries, brain injuries, and facial fractures. Riders should also note that helmet use should not be an excuse to engage in riskier behavior when they're riding. Instead, riders should routinely wear helmets as well as participate in other necessary safety behaviors while on the road.

The Common Impacts of a Bicycle Accident Head Injury

Suffering a head injury often means living with serious day-to-day consequences. Head injuries can range from relatively mild, with symptoms that subside within a few days, to serious, with lifelong symptoms. Head injuries that at first appear mild may show worsening symptoms over time. Cyclists who have sustained head injuries on the road should seek medical attention to assess the full extent of their injuries.

Symptoms of Minor Head Injury

Following an accident, cyclists may find themselves struggling with symptoms associated with minor head injuries, including:
  • Headaches. Following an accident that involves a head injury, many cyclists suffer from headaches. Headaches may range in severity from mild to serious. Even minor head injury can result in headaches; however, any time a headache gets worse, rather than better, injured individuals should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting may occur immediately following a head injury. Injured individuals may feel unsettled or disinterested in eating in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Nausea that worsens suddenly, however, indicates a need for immediate medical attention.
  • Fatigue or drowsiness. Injured individuals should follow their doctors' recommendations concerning sleep and rest following a head injury; however, patients may need an increased amount of sleep or feel more tired than usual for some time following the accident. Injured individuals may also feel more tired as a result of dealing with other symptoms of head injury.
  • Sleep complications. Some individuals who have suffered head injuries may sleep significantly more than usual. Sleep helps the body heal from injury and makes it easier for sufferers to recover. Others, however, may struggle to sleep at all in the aftermath of an accident. Many individuals with head injuries suffer from insomnia due to their injuries.
  • Blurred vision. Many individuals with head injuries struggle with blurred vision or difficulty bringing things into focus. They may struggle with items that are close as well as far away.
  • Ringing in the ears. While annoying, ringing in the ears doesn't cause harm to sufferers. It generally subsides as a head injury heals.
  • Dizziness. Along with nausea, many cyclists who experience head injuries struggle with dizziness or loss of balance. They may struggle to walk normally across a room or may need additional time to settle after getting to their feet. Cycling may be difficult or impossible until head injury symptoms subside completely.
  • Mood swings and emotional struggles. Following a head injury, cyclists may struggle with mood swings. They may feel depressed or notice increased anxiety. The anxiety may be generalized or specifically related to things associated with the accident. Cyclists may also find themselves dealing with extreme emotional reactions or struggling with emotional regulation following a head injury.
  • Trouble concentrating. Even individuals who normally don't have any trouble concentrating may struggle to focus on a single task following a traumatic brain injury. They may experience difficulty retaining focus for long periods of time or creating a state of focus that enables them to concentrate on key tasks.
  • Memory problems. After a head injury, memory problems may be minor, such as difficulty remembering simple tasks or calling names to mind, for example. Memory problems may also leave victims struggling to complete normal tasks or unable to remember their daily routines.
Symptoms of minor head injuries may last a few days, a few weeks, or several months following an accident. Recovery depends on the severity of the accident, as well as an individual's ability to bounce back and recover.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

While wearing a helmet decreases the risk of severe traumatic brain injury, it doesn't eliminate it entirely. Victims of severe brain injuries may struggle to manage lingering symptoms that substantially impact their quality of life. In some cases, symptoms of traumatic brain injury can be life-altering.
  • Loss of consciousness, including long-term loss of consciousness. In some cases, individuals suffering from serious brain injuries may be unconscious for prolonged periods of time following their accident.
  • Convulsions and/or seizures. Serious head injuries can leave sufferers struggling with either short-term, immediate convulsions or long-term problems with seizures.
  • Serious confusion. Minor brain injury can cause mild confusion. Severe brain injuries, on the other hand, may cause serious confusion. Sufferers may struggle to complete normal tasks or to handle normal activities. They may not recognize familiar faces or remember what happened immediately after an accident.
  • Slurred speech. After a serious brain injury, sufferers may struggle to form normal speech. Slurred speech, especially if a doctor has already diagnosed minor brain injury, should send victims immediately back to the doctor for further evaluation.
  • Unusual behavior changes. Many individuals who experience serious brain injuries may show signs of aggression or combativeness. They may struggle to regulate their emotions or become difficult to manage. They may also show signs of serious behavior abnormalities.
  • Weakness or numbness in the limbs. Sometimes, symptoms in the rest of the body may indicate a head injury, not an injury to the limbs. Sufferers may struggle with coordination or find that they lack normal strength in their arms and/or legs.

Bicycle Safety on the Road: Don't Rely on the Helmet Alone

Wearing safety gear on the road provides a high level of protection. No cyclist should get on their bicycle without wearing appropriate safety gear, including a bicycle helmet. Staying safe, however, doesn't just mean wearing a helmet. Several other strategies can also provide additional safety for bicyclists on the road, reducing the odds of head injury.
  • Choose your roads with care. When possible, avoid busy roads or roads where cycling will create a disruption to overall traffic patterns. If you must cycle on busy roads, try to avoid the busiest times of the day.
  • Follow the rules of the road. Like motorized vehicles, when you bike, you are responsible for obeying the rules of the road. Bike on the appropriate side of the road; observe all traffic signs, lights, and signals; yield to pedestrians. When you follow the rules of the road, you'll keep yourself and everyone around you safer.
  • Pay attention to the vehicles around you. In a perfect world, all drivers would pay full attention to everyone else around them, including cyclists. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to notice cyclists because they don't fit the visual pattern most drivers expect. As a cyclist, you must take responsibility for observing other drivers around you. Be wary of inappropriate behavior on the road or any sign that drivers might be a danger to you as a cyclist.
  • Avoid unnecessary chances. When you observe a driver who doesn't seem to notice you or who seems about to make an unsafe choice, slow down or get out of the way. This choice may slow down your ride or interfere with your pace, but it will also help keep you safe.

Living With a Traumatic Brain Injury After a Bicycle Accident

Whether minor or severe, head injuries may leave victims struggling to deal with everyday life. Knowing how to cope with traumatic brain injury can make it easier to handle those injuries and move forward with life.
  • Take advantage of apps and technology. For many sufferers of traumatic brain injury, remembering simple lists or working through common tasks may prove increasingly difficult. Many apps and other technology, however, can help make normal tasks easier. Making lists on a notes app or setting alarms to remember common tasks can make it easier for injured individuals to take care of their normal daily tasks.
  • Write things down. Writing things down makes them easier to remember, as well as ensures that there is information readily at hand when a victim needs it. Writing things down, from reminders to names, also decreases frustration and increases independence.
  • Make sure there's someone on hand to help. Individuals who have suffered serious brain injuries may require supervision to ensure that they don't harm themselves or others. Immediately following even a minor brain injury, keeping help on hand can make it easier to cope with common symptoms and allow victims to get adequate rest.
  • Follow medical advice. Recovery from a traumatic brain injury doesn't occur overnight. Many sufferers become frustrated and attempt to return to normal activity before it's recommended by their doctors. Victims, however, should follow medical advice regarding when to return to work or school, how to handle normal activities, and getting appropriate rest.
  • Use labels. Memory problems can make even normal daily tasks very difficult: locating the right pots and pans, cooking a favorite recipe, or getting the kids ready for school. Labeling cabinets, drawers, and even closets can make it easier to locate important items and reduce frustration.
  • Leave plenty of time for common activities. Because traumatic brain injury can cause difficulty focusing and/or completing common tasks, it may help to allocate extra time for each activity. Particularly immediately following a traumatic brain injury, it helps to provide extra time for even the most common activity. Leave plenty of time to rest, as well.
  • Decrease stress. Stress can increase many of the symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury. Decreasing stress during the recovery period can reduce the severity of those symptoms and make it easier to handle many of the problems that injured individuals endure.

Have You Received a Head Injury in a Bicycle Accident?

If you or a loved one suffered a head injury as a result of a bicycle accident, you may need legal help to answer your questions and help you seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Call the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today at (727) 451-6900, or contact us online. We'll start with a free consultation to learn more about your accident, your head injury, and your eligibility to seek compensation. In many cases, we've helped our clients obtain the maximum compensation for their injuries, and we're ready to bring that considerable experience to your accident case. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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