Researchers: Helmets help protect motorcyclists from head injuries but suffering other injuries is more likely

Safety -

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Researchers from Yale poured over motorcycle crash data from the last 10 years in Connecticut and found something interesting about people who wear helmets. Helmets do prevent serious head injuries. But they found that the people who wear helmets are actually more likely to get another kind of injury.

In Connecticut, adult riders have a choice to wear a motorcycle helmet or not. Researchers compared the kinds of injuries they saw in riders wearing helmets to those riders not wearing them.

“Helmeted riders actually suffered a larger percentage of upper extremity injuries,” explained Dr. Michael Leslie, O.D., who specializes in orthopedic trauma at the Yale School of Medicine.

His explanation for why those wearing helmets had more arm and shoulder injuries is that they are more focused and see the accident coming.

“They might put their arm down to protect themselves and suffer that fracture,” Dr. Leslie said. “Whereas, if you’re on a more leisurely, out on a motorcycle without a helmet, maybe you might sustain an injury that you just did not see coming. Maybe you don’t protect yourself.”

At New Haven Powersports, salesperson Jodi Green says, in general, folks who choose helmets are more aware.

“They’re aware of the dangers of motorcycles,” said Green. “They’re aware of the dangers of other cars that are on the street, and they’re aware that they want to be protected the best they can.”

A helmet is the best way to be protected. A broken arm is not nearly as bad as what can happen in a crash to someone who chooses not to wear a helmet.

“The unhelmeted riders oftentimes will have head injuries or chest injuries or other injuries that might be more dramatic, and maybe cost someone their life,” Dr. Leslie said.

This is the time of year we see motorcycles back on the road, and in more accidents.

“In the spring, cars aren’t used to seeing motorcycles on the road,” said Green. “Check twice, save a life. And motorcyclists should be defensively driving at all times.”

The folks at New Haven Powersports will tell you the right helmet and the right gear are all designed to increase the chances of you surviving a crash.

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