Cyclists urged to wear helmet and reduce the risk of serious brain injuries

Research shows helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury by nearly 70% and the risk of fatal head injury by 65%

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

If you're cycling to work, wear a helmet

Wear a helmet and reduce your risk of serious head injury by 70%

Mind your head is the latest message from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland as the organisation calls on cyclists to wear a helmet when cycling, even if it’s for a short journey.

The national brain injury charity makes this plea following new findings released this week that confirmed 70% of cyclists treated for brain injury in the national neurological centre at Beaumont Hospital, were not wearing a helmet.

The research also found that cycling had the highest numbers for referral to the neurological centre at 86 cases, followed by Gaelic football at 30 cases and horse riding at 23.

Barbara O’Connell, Chief Executive with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland said: “The latest research is not surprising to us and it confirms some of what we already see in our services. Nobody ever thinks a brain injury will happen to them and yet it happens to 52 people in this country every day. It is well proven that wearing a helmet reduces the severity of the brain injury by absorbing the impact from the collision. A helmet won’t prevent every head injury, but it can prevent serious head injuries like skull fractures, and this helps to reduce the amount of time a person spends in recovery and rehabilitation.”

Ms O’Connell continued: “The last thing we want, is to stop people from cycling which is a great form of exercise, active commuting and pollution-free transport for the environment. But from a brain injury point of view, we want every cyclist - young and old - wearing a helmet. The latest research findings show how serious cycling injuries can be without one. Recovery after brain injury is not easy. A fall off your bike can leave you with a chronic condition affecting your life and the lives of your family for months, years or even decades after the initial injury. Don’t take that chance. Mind your head and wear a helmet.”

According to the national brain injury charity, wearing a helmet is not new advice. As recently as 2016, Australian researchers showed how cycle helmets reduced the risk of serious head injury by nearly 70% and the risk of fatal head injury by 65%.

Statistics published in 2018 by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) showed that as many as 153 pedal cycle users experienced serious injuries on Irish roads and a further 778 cyclists reported minor injuries. Helmet wearing was not captured. The RSA’s provisional review of fatal collisions confirmed 9 cyclist fatalities for 2018.

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland also reminded the public that it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a road collision for a cyclist to come of their bike. Other causes can include:

- Greasy surface
- Bump on the road
- Cardiac event

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is the nation’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65 years) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury. For more information or to support Acquired Brain Injury Ireland visit www.abiireland.ie