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How important is wearing a helmet?

While helmeting laws vary in each state, neglecting this important piece of protection can land you in the hospital with life-changing injuries if you are involved in a motorcycle crash. The Neuroscience Institute at the University Hospital states that only 20 states and the District of Columbia require helmets to be worn by all riders. There are four states that do not require you to wear helmets at all and the remaining states mandate use by riders of a certain age. California requires all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, and a study reported by the institute details why this is necessary for your safety.


Over the course of 23 months, the hospital’s trauma center treated 224 patients who had been in a motorcycle crash. Of those, helmeted riders with spinal cord injuries stayed in the hospital for an average of seven days while those without helmets averaged 11. Head injury victims also saw a four-day difference in hospital length stays between motorcyclists who did and did not wear helmets.


Your chances of suffering a spinal column injury were least affected by helmets, with 19 percent of helmeted riders and 24 percent of riders without helmets sustaining this type of injury. Your risk of a head injury increases dramatically, with only 9 percent of helmeted riders and 42 percent of riders without helmets reporting this condition.


You can also benefit from a helmet during the recovery period. After treatment, riders without helmets who suffered a head injury were discharged to nursing homes five percent of the time, rehabilitation centers 32 percent of the time and home 45 percent of the time. In contrast, 71 percent of helmeted riders were able to go home after discharge and only 14 percent were sent for rehabilitation.


The costs of the hospital stay also varied greatly between groups. The largest difference was shown in riders who experienced a head injury. Those riders who had helmets incurred an average of over $22,000 in hospital costs while motorcyclists without helmets averaged just over $61,000. This information is intended to educate readers about the importance of wearing helmets and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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