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Motorcycle Helmet Use & Head & Facial Injuries CODES-Linked Data

October 26, 2009

Motorcycle Helmet Use & Head & Facial Injuries CODES-Linked Data
DOT HS 811 208
October 2009

PDF 55 pages:
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811208.PDF

16. Abstract

This report examines the relationship between motorcycle helmet use and
motorcycle crash outcomes in terms of injury types, hospital charges,
and other variables employing data from the Crash Outcome Data
Evaluation System (CODES), a program facilitated by the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration. Helmeted motorcyclists were less likely
to experience facial and head injuries compared to unhelmeted
motorcyclists. Helmeted motorcyclists were significantly less likely to
experience a traumatic brain injury. TBIs are of particular concern in
our study. TBI was associated with significantly higher hospital
charges. Additionally, motorcyclists with TBI were much less likely to
be discharged home and more likely to require rehabilitation or to be
discharged to a long-term care facility following their hospitalization.
Both of these destinations are likely to result in costs and burdens for
the injured motorcyclists beyond the scope of this study’s data.
Finally, motorcyclists involved in alcohol- or drug-related crashes and
speed-related crashes had higher odds of experiencing poor outcomes.
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Page 32:

CONCLUSIONS

This report examines factors associated with motorcycle crash outcomes
using CODES data supplied by 18 States. Of particular interest to this
report were injuries that may have been preventable by motorcycle helmet
use. These outcomes include head/facial injuries and traumatic brain
injuries. CODES data consists of Statewide crash databases
probabilistically linked to Statewide emergency department and hospital
admission data. These properties make CODES data particularly ideal for
identifying specific medical injuries through the use of ICD-9-CM codes
and AIS mapping.

Helmeted motorcyclists were less likely to experience facial and head
injuries compared to unhelmeted motorcyclists. Helmeted motorcyclists
were significantly less likely to experience TBI. TBIs are of particular
concern in our study. TBI was associated with significantly higher
hospital charges. Additionally, motorcyclists with TBI were much less
likely to be discharged home and more likely to require rehab or to be
discharged to long-term care facilities following their
hospitalizations. Both destinations are likely to result in costs and
burdens for the injured motorcyclists beyond the scope of this study’s
data. Finally, motorcyclists involved in alcohol- or drug-related
crashes and speed-related crashes had higher odds of experiencing poor
outcomes.

It is important to note that the State crash databases used in the CODES
combined analysis did not identify whether the individual motorcycle
helmets involved in fatal crashes comply with DOT regulations. The
National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), a national
probability-based sample survey, estimated that 48 percent of
motorcyclists wore a DOT-compliant helmet in 2005.

Although CODES data from 18 States cannot be considered a representative
sample of all motorcycle crashes in the United States for generating
national counts or estimates, as a census of 48 State-years of reported
motorcycle crashes, this data provides very large numbers of helmeted
and unhelmeted motorcyclists for which it is possible to make useful
comparisons and study rare outcomes. This study also provides a useful
demonstration of how data from multiple States can be combined for
research purposes. Methods initiated for this study can be further
developed for future specialized studies of crash outcomes using pooled
CODES data.

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