Motorcycle Helmets and Spinal Injuries: Dispelling the Myth

Elizabeth M. Orsay, Robert L. Muelleman, Timothy D. Peterson, Daniela H. Jurisic, Judith B. Kosasih, Paul Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Study objective: To determine the relationship between spinal injuries and helmet use in motorcycle trauma. Design: Retrospective case series. Setting: Twenty-eight hospitals in four midwestern states–Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin–representing urban, suburban, and rural settings. Patients and other participants: Consecutive sample of motorcyclists treated at the participating centers. Interventions: None. Main outcome measures: The major variables evaluated were helmet use, ethanol use, and significant head or spinal injuries. Results: 1,153 cases were analyzed. Helmet use was not significantly associated with spinal injuries (odds ratio, 1.12; 95% confidence intervals, 0.79, 1.58) whereas head injury was markedly decreased with helmet use (odds ratio, 0.35; 95% confidence intervals, 0.23, 0.53). Ethanol use was a significant variable in both head (odds ratio, 3.89) and spinal (odds ratio, 2.41) injuries. Conclusion: In contrast to a significant protective relationship identified for head injuries, helmet use was not associated with an increased or decreased occurrence rate of spinal injuries in motorcycle trauma. [Orsay EM, Muelleman RL, Peterson TD, Jurisic DH, Kosasih JB, Levy P: Motorcycle helmets and spinal injuries: Dispelling the myth. Ann Emerg Med April 1994;23:802-806.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)802-806
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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