Bicyclists and motorcyclists are particularly prone to facial injuries. This is because they are relatively unprotected, even with a helmet and because they often fly over the handlebars of their vehicle, crashing to the earth with their face. There are a number of facial injuries that can occur. Many sustain mandibular fractures, which are fractures to the lower jaw. They get this injury by striking their chin to a stationary surface. They also get maxillary fractures, which are fractures of the upper jaw. Both types of fractures can alter the bite of the person and, during treatment, wiring of the jaw may be necessary.
Other fractures include orbital fractures, fractures of the zygomatic arch and fractures of the nasal bones. Fractures can be displaced or not displaced. Some patients need surgery to correct their facial fractures.
One study took a careful look at the types of facial injuries seen in motorcycle and bicycle crashes. They looked at patients who were injured for ten years beginning in 1999. They looked at the pattern of injuries including whether or not the fractures were open and what kinds of soft tissue damage were seen. They looked to see what kinds of dental or alveolar injuries were found and whether or not the person wore a protective device.
In the study, a total of 556 bicycle accident patients were looked at and 367 motorcycle accident patients were looked at. Men were involved in 79 percent of bicycle collisions and in 82 percent of motorcycle collisions. Young males were particularly at risk for both bicycle and motorcycle accidents. A total of 250 bicyclists sustained 311 fractures of the maxillofacial area. It turned out that motorcycle accidents caused more maxillofacial injuries than bicycles. About 221 motorcyclists sustained 338 maxillofacial fractures, with some patients sustaining more than one fracture. More motorcyclists sustained multiple fractures than bicyclists.
During the study, there were 76 percent of motorcyclists wearing helmets and 6 percent of bicyclists were wearing helmets. Motorcycle riders had more major lacerations while bicyclists had more simple abrasions. When it came to dental injuries, the most common injury was avulsion of the teeth. Hospital stays were about 3.8 days for motorcyclists and 1.3 days for bicyclists.
From the study, it was clear that motorcycle riders sustained more high impact collisions when compared to bicyclists. They also had more soft tissue lacerations that required sutures or surgery to repair. Bicyclists were scraped up but usually did not have a major laceration. In the low impact collisions in bicycle accidents, the riders sustained abrasions, dentoalveolar fractures and avulsions, and hematomas. The study researchers ended with the belief that there should be more legislation forcing motorcyclists to wear helmets with face guards. Bicyclists who ride for any length of time should also wear helmets. This, too, might need to be taken up by the legislature. Helmets for bicyclists probably don’t need face guards but at least some head protection to limit upper facial injuries and closed head injuries.