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J Surg Res. 2010 Jan;158(1):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2009.06.034.

Motorcycle helmets save lives, but not limbs: a National Trauma Data Bank analysis of functional outcomes after motorcycle crash.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Acute Care Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.



The incidence of motorcycle fatalities over the last 10 y has nearly doubled. There is considerable evidence that motorcycle helmets save lives, but there are little data regarding the impact that helmets have on functional outcomes after a motorcycle crash. The objective of this study was to determine the difference between helmeted and non-helmeted motorcyclists in the odds of developing a functional deficit at discharge in three domains: speech, locomotion, and feeding.


Reviewed cases in the National Trauma Databank v7.0 involved in motorcycle collisions. Multiple logistic regression was used to analyze the effect of helmets on mortality and functional outcomes, adjusting for age, race, gender, insurance status, anatomic and physiologic injury severity, and head injury.


The adjusted odds of mortality (0.75; 95% CI 0.65-0.86) and functional deficits in speech (0.82; 95% CI 0.69-0.97), locomotion (1.19; 95% CI 1.11-1.29), and feeding (0.96 95% CI 0.84-1.08) among helmeted riders was compared with non-helmeted motorcyclists with equivalent injuries.


Helmeted motorcyclists are less likely to die and develop a deficit in speech after a motorcycle collision. These data support that motorcycle helmets are important in preventing functional deficits related to head injury.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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