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Mythbuster: Do motorcycle helmets protect the spine?

March 28, 2018—If you think wearing a helmet will hurt you in a motorcycle crash, think again. A new study debunks the claim that helmets increase the risk of a cervical spine injury.

In this five-year study, researchers looked at more than 1,000 cases of motorcycle crash victims at a level 1 trauma center in Wisconsin. About 30 percent of the patients (323 people) were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. About 70 percent (738 people) were not.

Of these crash victims, only 7.4 percent of those wearing a helmet had a cervical spine injury, compared to 15.4 percent of those not wearing a helmet.

The full study is published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

A helmet matters

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that wearing a helmet saved the lives of 1,859 motorcycle riders in 2016. They said another 802 lives could have been saved if every motorcyclist had worn one.

Learn more about motorcycle safety on the NHTSA website.

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