This guest post is courtesy of Chicago Injury Attorney, Jonathan Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 70% of bicycle fatalities are caused by traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Bicyclists are especially susceptible to head injuries that can cause TBI’s due to their lack of protection when they fall or are hit by another vehicle. Although helmets can mitigate almost 85% of these brain injuries, only 20-25% of cyclists wear helmets, leaving them very vulnerable to traumatic brain injury.
What Is A TBI?
Traumatic brain injuries, such as the ones sustained when in a bicycle accident, are when there is a jolt or impact to the head that causes an interruption of the normal brain activity. These can be mild, as is the case with a concussion, or severe, that can cause unconsciousness, coma, and even death. When an injury happens, it can cause tearing or damage in the brain, leading to the loss of brain cells, which are not replaced within the human brain. This means any type of TBI, from mild to severe can leave the victim with permanent damage to their cognitive functions.
The side effects from a concussion or mild TBI can include dizziness, headaches, and vision and coordination issues. Although most people can recover completely from such an injury with efficient rest, there are always risks of permanent impairments with any type of TBI. The more severe forms of traumatic brain injury often lead to long-term disabilities; almost half of patients who are hospitalized for a TBI still have a disability one year later.
Recovering From A TBI
For many cyclists who sustain a head injury in a crash, the road to recovery may be long, and in some cases, never ending. They often have other injuries as well, possibly neck or back problems, broken bones, and muscle issues. Add to that a TBI, which often have many long-lasting effects the person will have to overcome including:
- Reduced attention or memory, general loss of cognitive function
- Impaired motor function, balance and coordination
- Vision, hearing or perception issues
- Emotional and behavioral problems
Depending on the severity and symptoms, TBI recovery patients made need ongoing physical or behavioral therapy, medical devices, medications and other medical attention. Some effects may not even become pronounced until years later, especially in younger riders. Also, survivors of a TBI are more likely to have other brain issues, as they get older such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other brain diseases.
The best and really only way to prevent a TBI while riding a bicycle is with the use of a helmet. Helmets can prevent up to 88% of all head injuries, including traumatic brain injury. Considering that 52,000 cyclists were injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2010, the risk is high that a cyclist may be hit while riding. Although riders may not be able to prevent the accident from happening, they can possibly reduce the amount of injury to their most important organ, their brain.
Cycling is a great sport and leisure activity that gets many out of the house for some healthy exercise. Although there are risks, by using some common sense precautions, cyclists can reduce their chance of TBI when out on the road with other vehicles.