Although most of us know that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle will help prevent serious brain injuries, and even death, a new study reports that motorcyclists who wore helmets were 22% less likely to suffer a cervical spine injury than those who did not wear helmets. The study was conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The study debunks an earlier report which suggested that wearing helmets could increase the likelihood of a serious spinal cord injury in a crash. However, over the past 25 years since that study was conducted, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has criticized the report. The more recent study strongly suggests that motorcycle riders wearing helmets had a 65% reduction in risk of traumatic brain injury, and the odds of death were 37% less when compared to those riders who didn’t wear them. Additionally, the study provided strong evidence that helmets did in fact lower the chances of cervical spine injuries.

The state of Indiana has been under increasing media attention lately after a bill that was introduced into the House of Representatives passed last week that would increase the motorcycle registration fee from $17 to $27. While normal rate increases are expected, the more than 58% increase is due in large part to raise fund brain and spinal cord injury research.

While motorcyclists believe that research for brain and spinal cord injuries is important, they do not feel as though they should be singled out as the leading cause for brain injuries, when between 1995 and 2003 motorcycle related brain injuries accounted for only three tenths of one percent of the national injury toll.

However, supporters of the bill argue that while more accidents to occur in cars rather than on motorcycles, the risk of such injuries is 4-6 times greater to a motorcyclist than to a car driver, and 90 percent of these people who are injured in motorcycle accidents will eventually come onto the state medicaid rolls.

You can read more on the bill here.

 I was recently sent an article written by Wendy A. Tucker titled “A  Knock at the Door,” published in June in California Lawyer Magazine.  Ms. Tucker shared her emotional and inspirational story of her husband’s recovery from suffering a severe traumatic brain injury after getting into a motorcycle accident.  To read the full article, click here.

Going the Distance: Journey of Recovery, produced and directed by David L. Brown, offers an inspiring message of hope for any handicapped person, survivor, families, friends and caregivers, especially those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

The story features the story of four brain injury survivors including a a young boy who gets back on a surf board with a "helper" dog; a young Marine injured in the war; a young woman thrown from a motorcycle; and a young man who was the victim of road rage. The movie also highlights the need for resources to in order to enable those survivors who are not so lucky to be living the lives they would like.  

Going The Distance 10-31-2011 from David L. Brown on Vimeo.

I read a very interesting article published by the Journal of Emergency Medicine (September 24, 2009) which contained a research article studying the adult motorcycle crashes and the effect and comparing helmeted to unhelmeted motorcyclists.  The study conducted by researchers at the Department of Surgery and Trauma Services in the University Medical Center at Brackenridge, Austin, Texas compared the outcomes of helmeted versus unhelmeted motorcyclists involved in motorcycle crashes.  This retrospective study (1994 – 2006) of adult motorcycle crashes found that unhelmeted riders had a higher Injury Severity Score, lower Glasgow Coma Scale score and more hypotension.  The study found that unhelmeted riders had worse outcomes including higher rate of severe disability, more days in the hospital and intensive care unit, incurred higher hospital charges and had higher mortality rates. 

This study is further proof of the need for all states to require helmets for motorcycle operators.

The tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson yesterday has raised new concerns over the need for prevention and early detection of mild traumatic brain injuries. While the first few hours after an injury has occurred are the most crucial in determining the severity of an injury, it is imperative to keep a watchful eye for the next 48-72 hours. As in the case of Richardson, no immediate symptoms were found after a fall during a ski lesson. However, it was the head pain which followed a few hours later that alerted her to the injury which later caused her death.

Prevention of brain injuries is also a subject we need to be more consciously aware of. If Richardson had been wearing a helmet while skiing, the likelihood of suffering a brain injury would have decreased dramatically. Wearing a helmet while riding a bike or motorcycle, or playing sports, such as football, soccer and skiing, will greatly increase your chances of preventing a brain injury before it has the chance to occur.

I found an interesting article on today which discusses several common misconceptions associated with mild traumatic brain injuries. I also found a Q&A section on Good Morning America’s website which answers common questions people are asking in response to Richardson’s death.

A week ago Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger sustained his third concussion, two from football and one from his near fatal motorcycle crash.  Fortunately for Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh has one of the leading concussion management teams in the world headed by neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon and consultants Drs. Mark Lovell and Micky Collins. 

Unfortunately, despite this state-of-the-art concussion management care, Steeler coach Mike Tomlin was quoted as saying “He is not permanently injured or scarred at this point – he just has a concussion.” 

In an excellent New York Times article published on January 1, 2009 entitled “Roethlisberger’s Injury Highlights Nerve Center for Head Trauma,” Sean Hamill noted that “Several concussion experts, including the former Steelers’ doctor, Julian Bailes, bristled at Tomlin’s remarks.  They said that concussions could not be deemed fully healed for at least two or three days and that Tomlin’s immediate, public optimism- while not uncommon – misrepresented the seriousness of brain injuries.”

Dr. Bailes, chairman of Neurosurgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine, was quoted as saying:

“Research has shown that symptoms and manifestations of concussion can become apparent days later and are not always apparent immediately following the injury.  Why the rush to judgment?  I think it’s a disservice to the science.  If the public doesn’t realize – players, coaches, parents, trainers, fans – that concussions can have later manifestations, it can present a real danger.” 

For neuroattorneys, this represents an important and significant statement.  For years, defense doctors and their attorneys have been arguing that a plaintiff could not have sustained a concussion if there is an absence of complaints when the patient is taken to the emergency room.  This statement by Dr. Bailes clearly contradicts this myth that has existed far too long.  I congratulate Dr. Bailes for this important comment.

As a result of our experience and through careful assessment and preparation, Stark & Stark’s personal injury lawyers have been able to help victims and their families obtain cash settlements for lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Our personal injury practice is one of the largest in Central New Jersey. As many as 2,000 clients per year are assisted by our lawyers in personal injury matters and every case is supervised by a certified trial lawyer.

Our areas of practice include automobile accidents, birth injuries, construction accidents, traumatic brain injury, product liability, medical malpractice, motorcycle accidents, nursing home negligence, on the job injuries, slip and fall accidents and many more.