The data were gathered from the National Trauma Databank, looking through information on more than 40,000 motorcycle collisions between 2002 and 2006.
“We are debunking a popular myth that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle can be detrimental during a motorcycle crash,” said study leader Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. in a press announcement. “Using this new evidence, legislators should revisit the need for mandatory helmet laws. There is no doubt that helmets save lives and reduce head injury. And now we know they are also associated with a decreased risk of cervical spine injury.”
For more than two decades, the researchers say, activists lobbying against universal helmet laws have cited a small study suggesting that, in the event of a crash, the weight of a helmet could cause significant torque on the neck that would be devastating to the spine.
Haider's study, like many other similar ones before, found a reduction in risk of traumatic brain injury in helmet wearers (65 percent) and decreased odds of death (37 percent). But the novelty here is the strongest evidence yet that helmets significantly reduce cervical spine injury, which can result in paralysis.