Bike-Linked Head Injuries Decline for Kids, But Not Adults

By Ernie Mundell
HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY, May 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) – There is good news and bad news about head injury rates among American cyclists: The rates of these injuries have fallen sharply among children, but have barely budged among the growing number adult cyclists.

Between 2009 and 2018, the increase in helmet use, the construction of dedicated cycle lanes in cities, and other safety interventions significantly reduced cycling-related head injuries (TBIs), especially in children aged 10 at 14, according to a new report.

“Overall, the rate of emergency room visits for bicycle-related injuries has been cut by about half. [48.7%] in children and 5.5% in adults, “said a team led by Kelly Sarmiento. It works at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United.

In total, the reductions in bicycle-related head injuries in children over the past decade are new times better than those seen in adult cyclists.

Sarmiento and his colleagues have noted that more and more adults are giving up cars and hopping on bikes – with sometimes tragic results.


“Bicycle-related deaths among adults have increased in recent years,” they wrote. “In 2018, 857 adult cyclists died from road accidents in the United States, the highest number in two decades.”

The new report tracked US data on nearly 600,000 emergency room visits for bicycle-related injuries between 2009 and 2018.

The Sarmiento team pointed out that “most patients with TBI [83%] were treated and released from the emergency department. ”

Yet “although many of these people have experienced good recovery, some have experienced ongoing symptoms that have emotional, cognitive, behavioral and academic consequences,” the researchers added.

Sex also seemed important.

“During the study period, the rate of emergency room visits for bicycle-related TBIs among men of all ages was three times higher than among women,” the CDC researchers wrote. Boys and men were also more likely to die from a bicycle accident than girls and women, according to the study.

Researchers believe that more bicycle safety education is needed, specifically targeted at men.


Two emergency physicians unrelated to the new report agreed more needs to be done.

“Although the study indicates that there has been a much greater decline in bicycle-related TBIs in children compared to adults, we should not be complacent and slack off in our efforts to address this important public health issue. “said Dr. Robert Glatter, who practices at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“The fact is, riding a bicycle causes the highest number of emergency room visits for head trauma in the United States,” he said.

The threat to adults is particularly serious.

“With an increasing number of adults commuting to work in urban and rural settings, combined with increasing congestion of bicycle lanes, the potential for not only traffic trauma injuries but also to multiple systems is real.” Glatter said. There is the “potential for serious and potentially fatal injuries to the chest and abdomen, including fractures of the long bones, pelvis and ribs,” he added.

Dr Teresa Murray Amato directs emergency medicine at the Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital, also in New York.


She said the welcome drop in CBTs in children could be “the result of a mass educational push by pediatricians to make sure parents understand the need to wear helmets while children ride their bikes.”

But “while cycling can be a fun and efficient way to exercise, there are safety issues that need to be followed,” Amato said.

Glatter said there was a new danger to be aware of as well.

“The explosion of electric bicycles in recent years continues to lead to an increase in the severity of injuries, mainly due to higher speeds,” he said. “Electric bikes are also generally heavier than standard bikes, which can cause more serious injuries due to their weight only during falls and crashes.”

The new study was published on May 13 in the journal CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

To learn more about bicycle safety, see the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration.

SOURCES: Teresa Murray Amato, MD, president, emergency medicine, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, New York; Robert Glatter, MD, emergency physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York; Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, May 13, 2021

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