Despite evidence that helmet use decreases motorcycle-associated injuries and mortality, the use of motorcycle helmets is not universal. As trauma surgeons are frequently the primary providers responsible for motorcycle crash victims, we sought to gain a better understanding of trauma surgeons’ perspectives on helmet use with motorcycles.
Members of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) were asked to participate in a survey that centered on attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs regarding motorcycle helmet use, associated injuries, and related costs. Demographic data were analyzed. In addition, we performed a literature search to attempt to clarify the current data on this subject.
A total of 127 surgeons participated. The majority were male (64%, n=81), in academic practice (67%, n=85), and worked at a Level I trauma center (80%, n=102). Of those that owned a motorcycle, 100% wear a helmet when riding. Seven percent (n=9) of respondents believe helmet use increases cervical spine injury, although the majority (78%, n=99) disagree. In regards to head injuries and helmet use, most (93%, n=118) believe that helmets decrease the severity of head injury, improve outcomes (98%, n=124), and impact long-term disability (93%, n=118). Ninety percent (n=114) of surgeons believe that state legislation mandating motorcycle helmet use increases helmet utilization, and 82% (n=104) believe that the decision to wear a helmet should not be a personal decision. The majority (83%, n=106) of trauma surgeons agreed that helmet use would likely lead to a major reduction in motorcycle-related health care costs.
North American trauma surgeons wear helmets when they ride motorcycles and believe that these devices are highly protective, leading to a reduction in brain injury and the subsequent health care costs.