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IU Study Finds Motorcycle Passengers, Not Drivers are More Likely to Suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries

By Jack H. FarnbauchFebruary 28, 2018

Motorcycle passengers are more likely to be non-compliant with protective helmet use and to suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) than motorcycle drivers, according to a new IU School of Medicine study.

Using the National Trauma Data Bank from the years 2007-2010, resident and faculty researchers within the Department of Surgery identified more than 85,000 motorcycle trauma patients. These patients were then divided into two groups: motorcycle drivers and motorcycle passengers. The study found TBIs to be the most frequent injury amongst individuals who were not wearing helmets at the time of collision, with passengers demonstrating a significantly higher rate of injury and lower helmet use compliancy.  

This study, published online Nov. 15 in the JAMA Surgery medical journal, is one of the first of its kind to investigate the benefits of helmet use when comparing motorcycle drivers to passengers. The study also noted that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there has been an increase in the proportion of fatalities when comparing motorcycle use to that of other passenger vehicles.

“Neurologic and other head and neck trauma account for a large portion of fatalities and serious injuries associated with motorcycle accidents,” said Tyler Evans, MD, an integrated plastic surgery resident at IU School of Medicine. “With over 8 million motorcycles on the road in the United States alone, the push for prevention in this pattern of injuries is essential to overall public health and the economy.” You can check out the entire study here.