Helmets, worth the hassle to wear one or take a risk and ride without!!
A bicycle helmet is designed to attenuate impacts to the head of a cyclist in falls while minimizing side effects such as interference with peripheral vision. There is ongoing scientific research into the degree of protection offered by bicycle helmets in the event of an accident, and on the effects of helmet wearing on cyclist and motor vehicle driver behaviour. There is active debate over what can be concluded from available studies, and on whether the use of helmets by cyclists should be promoted or mandated, either just for children, or for cyclists of all ages. In particular the debate over bicycle helmet laws is intense and occasionally bitter, often based not only on differing interpretations of the scientific and other academic literature, but also on differing assumptions and interests of various parties.
In the USA, two-thirds of cyclists admitted to hospital have a head injury. Ninety per cent of cyclist deaths are caused by collisions with motor vehicles. For cyclists admitted to hospital in Western Australia before the helmet law, about 30% of cyclists and 30% of pedestrians had head injuries. Trends and proportions of cyclists admitted to hospital with head injury were similar for all road users.
There are several meta-analyses and reviews which synthesize and evaluate the results of multiple case-control studies. A Cochrane review of case-control studies of bicycle helmets by Thompson et al. found that "helmets provide a 63 to 88% reduction in the risk of head, brain and severe brain injury for all ages of bicyclists. Helmets provide equal levels of protection for crashes involving motor vehicles (69%) and crashes from all other causes (68%). Injuries to the upper and mid facial areas are reduced 65%.".
A 2001 meta-analysis of sixteen studies by Attewell et al. found that, compared to helmeted cyclists, unhelmeted cyclists were 2.4 times more likely to sustain a brain injury; 2.5 times more likely to sustain a head injury; and 3.7 times more likely to sustain a fatal injury.
A 2012 re-analysis of the 16 studies in the Attewell meta-analysis, by Elvik, found that, compared to helmeted cyclists, unhelmeted cyclists were 2.5 times more likely to sustain a brain injury; 2.3 times more likely to sustain a head injury; and 4.3 times more likely to sustain a fatal injury.When 5 new head-injury studies were added to the model, Elvik found that unhelmeted cyclists were 1.9 times more likely than helmeted cyclists to sustain a head injury. When head, face and neck injuries were combined, Elvik found that unhelmeted cyclists were 1.4 times more likely than helmeted cyclists to sustain an injury to the head, face or neck. The odds ratio for brain injuries reported by Elvik (95% CI 0.33-0.50) is consistent with the odds ratios using hospital controls reported in the Cochrane review (0.05-0.57 for brain injury and 0.14-0.48 for severe brain injury). In noting that the results of the meta-analysis were inconsistent with the results of the Cochrane review, Elvik may have been referring just to the head injury results (95% CI 0.26-0.37 in the Cochrane review; in Elvik's meta-analysis, 0.38-0.48 using the studies in the Attewell analysis, 0.49-0.59 when 8 new studies were included).
The above article is just a few snippets taken from Wikipedia, visit the site for a more detailed article on helmets.
I think the thing we can deduce from any research we do on the use of helmets is that they serve a purpose. We have to be careful in this debate simply because no other issue is as stringly debated as this topic. I would never try and impose helmet wearing on anybody apart from children, they are after all a little more delicate, and we do love em to bits no matter what we think of them at times. Given that fact, I will always insist that my daughter wears her helmet, and we have now got our own little saying of "No helmet - No ride". So to sum it up I suppose my thoughts, for what they are worth are; if wearing a helmet helps save my face, my neck or even my life, sign me up.....if wearing a helmet does nothing at all can it make any accident I may have any worse? The fact that I believe it wouldn't makes me wear a helmet, every ride and if somebody shows me concrete proof that by wearing it I could put myself at risk I'm going to continue wearing it.
But I still believe the choice should be the cyclists