Biking is a world of fun, and a great workout to boot. However, safety is paramount, both in how one prepares to go biking and how they conduct themselves while they bike. Carelessness can quickly lead to any number of injuries, up to and including traumatic brain injuries, one of the most severe types of injuries you can face. But the question is, just how commonly does this happen?
What is a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to an injury, almost exclusively in the head and neck region, impacts your brain. Such injuries can include an impact to one of these regions, penetration of the skull and brain, and brain fractures in general. As it were, a TBI can take multiple forms. Sometimes it can be as small (yet still dangerous) as a concussion, or it can even be fatal. When you suffer an injury or know someone who has that could turn out to be a TBI, be sure to keep an eye out for many of the symptoms that correspond with a TBI. These may include physical symptoms, such as a loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sleep issues, speech issues, dizziness, blurry vision, and sight/sound sensitivity. On the mental side, the symptoms may include memory issues, anxiety, depression, and mood swings. These will vary in severity and their time frame, so be mindful of that as well. Typically, symptoms will be noticeable immediately, though sometimes they may arise over the span of minutes or hours. Don’t play games with a potential TBI, make sure to get it checked up on as soon as humanly possible.
Exploring the data
According to a study by the Korean Journal of Neurotrauma, head injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in cycling-related injuries. It also notes that most injuries of any type were the result of a simple fall off of the rider’s bicycle, and that the involvement of motor vehicles exacerbated the risk of severe injury. This also created a higher risk that the injury will result in a poor outcome. Furthermore, data from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons found that cycling was by far the most common activity a person may be undergoing where they experience a TBI. In 2009, 85,389 people were admitted to hospitals for a head injury sustained while cycling, while the second largest group, people admitted for head injuries sustained whilke playing football, comprised 46,948 people. 600 people died from cycling incidents, and two-thirds of these deaths were caused by TBI. In all, sports-related head injuries comprised approximately 446,788 cases.
All in all, the risk of TBI varies from person to person, and depends on a number of factors. For example, TBIs in the elderly versus TBIs in younger people were approximately the same, but elderly people were more likely to suffer a bad experience resulting from the TBI. Wearing a helmet is also a significant tool to reducing the risk of developing a TBI, much less the TBI being particularly dangerous. Approximately 85 percent of all cycling-related head injuries are believe to be preventable if helmets were utilized. When wearing or applying a helmet on someone else, do make sure that the wearer does not experience the helmet loosening and coming off while riding or falling off the bicycle. The risk of a TBI is also not something that can be underestimated; besides the obvious risks, some may be surprised to learn that a fall as small as two feet can result in a TBI such as a skuill fracture, which can be alleviated to some degree by the use of a helmet. Unfortunately, all too many people fail to wear their helmets consistently, if at all. Approximately half of U.S. children aged 5-14 years of age own a helmet, and only 1/4 of them wear it at all times. As of May 2020, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws that require children of a certain age wear a helmet whenever they ride their bike, up from nine + DC in 2009. Data suggests that states with such laws help encourage children to wear their helmets more than those without. Head injury caused by negligect actions of another is another factor that must be considered as well, as the concerns will go beyond the medical and into the legal.