Newsroom

Our Stories

Wearing a helmet significantly reduces death from head injury for cyclists: report

Toronto, October 15, 2012

By Kate Taylor

Dr. Nav Persaud
Dr. Nav Persaud

Cyclists who don’t wear helmets are up to three times more likely to die from head injury, according to a new report led by a researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The study is the first of its kind to show wearing a helmet prevents death, said Dr. Nav Persaud, lead author of the study and a physician in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the hospital.

"Previous studies have shown that wearing a helmet is effective in minor collisions," Dr. Persaud said. "But this study shows that helmets prevent injuries from more serious collisions as well."

The results appeared online in the Canadian Medical Association Journal today.

Dr. Persaud and colleagues reviewed data from the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario on all 129 cycling deaths between 2006 and 2010 in the province. They compared people who had died from head injury to those that had died from other serious injuries – as determined by the coroner’s investigation – and then looked at how many in each group were wearing a helmet.

This measure gave them an estimation of risk of death for cyclists who don’t wear helmets.

"Our current laws say helmets are mandatory for those under 18, but our report found 88 per cent of those who died were older than 18," Dr. Persaud said. "And 18 per cent were over the age of 60. So, the law is missing most people."

"While legislating helmet use is controversial and inconsistent in Canada, our study shows that wearing helmets saves lives," said Dr. Persaud. "Policies and campaigns that promote helmet use should decrease cycling deaths for people of all ages."

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.