I heard that if I wear a motorcycle helmet, I have a higher chance of suffering a spinal injury in a crash. Is this true?
No. There is a popular misconception that has spread throughout the world of motorcycling that motorcycle helmets have been linked to spinal cord injuries and other serious motorcycle injuries; however, this statement is untrue. While it might seem like it would make sense that a helmet resting on your neck would put more weight on the end of your neck in a crash, the good news is that it doesn’t work that way.
Motorcycle helmets that are DOT approved help absorb the energy from a crash—the same energy that could break a rider’s neck or cause serious neck injuries. Study after study has proven that motorcycle helmets help lower the risk of spinal injuries and reduce the severity of brain injuries in a crash.
According to a new study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine indicated that motorcycle helmets help reduce the risk of cervical spine injuries. Although a 25-year-old study did indicate that more spine injuries occurred in helmeted riders, “helmet technology has significantly improved since that time – now helmets are much lighter but even sturdier and more protective,” said Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“Motorcycle helmets are associated with a decreased risk of cervical spine injury,” said Haider. While many people thought the torque on the neck from a helmet could cause spinal injuries, this study’s results indicate that helmeted riders were 22 percent less likely than non-helmeted riders to suffer a cervical spinal injury.