Motorcycle Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injuries

December 11, 2012

Motorcycle injuries are high risk for traumatic brain injuries whether or not the patient was wearing a helmet or not. While helmets are protective to the brain, they do not guarantee that the individual won't get a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries can involve bruising of brain tissue, internal brain bleeding or bleeding outside the brain in the form of an epidural bleed or a subdural bleed. All of these injury types can cause secondary brain swelling or a mass effect due to the addition of blood clots in the cranial cavity. The end result can be herniation of the brain through the foramen magnum at the base of the skull and loss of ability to breathe on one's own. This ordinarily results in death of the victim.

One study looked at national healthcare and injury costs for young people in motorcycle injuries sustained in or out of traffic. Certainly some injuries occur in off-road accidents. The focus was primarily on the financial burden of traumatic brain injuries in young adults and in children.

The researchers used the 2006 Impatient Database, which is sampling from 38 states that records the inpatient discharges for kids aged 21 or less. It compared those who sustained a traumatic brain injury and those who did not sustain a traumatic brain injury. It also looked at these and compared them to non-traffic motorcycle accidents and traffic-related accidents for those aged 12-20. They looked at the costs of the hospitalization, the length of stay, the severity of injury and the long term disability rates after a motorcycle accident.

The researchers found that a total of 5,662 hospital discharges of 3 percent of all cases in the youth were related to motorcycle accidents. It also amounted to 5 percent of cases diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. Two thirds of all accidents were related to driving on the road and 1/3 were off road accidents. A third of all patients sustained a traumatic brain injury. Those who had a traumatic brain injury had a 24 percent chance of having a long term disability.

People who had a traumatic brain injury were almost four times more likely to need discharge to a rehabilitation facility and were more than ten times more likely to die while hospitalized than patients who didn't have traumatic brain injury.

The researchers concluded that motorcycle accidents result in a high number of hospitalizations. Many of the patients sustained a traumatic brain injury and were more likely to suffer long term disability or death in the hospital when compared to those that didn't have a traumatic brain injury. Most injuries happened to the road, however, some happened during off-road driving accidents.

These were injuries that happened to children under the age of 21, most of whom do not have driver's licenses so that they can legally drive on the road. This means that some students were illegally driving, while others were driving strictly in off road conditions.

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