The study authors looked at hospitalizations per 10,000 registrations from motorcycle crashes by examining discharge data compiled from all acute care hospitals in the state. They found an increase of 42 percent in the head injury hospitalization rate and a 2 percent increase in the non-head injury hospitalization rate. The number of head-injured, hospitalized motorcyclists requiring further care at facilities specializing in rehabilitation and long-term care increased 87 percent after the repeal, and increased 16 percent for non-head injured motorcyclists.
Total acute care hospital charges stemming from motorcycle-related head injuries increased 132 percent in the two years following repeal compared to 69 percent for non-head injuries.
"Our findings strengthen the argument for more comprehensive helmet laws that help protect riders and lower the cost of health care," said Hank Weiss, Ph.D., M.P.H., study co-author and associate professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, Center for Injury Research and Control, University of Pittsburgh. "Serious head injuries, causing anything from short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate to coma and death, can severely impact quality of life and affect not just those injured, but their families as well. Until a universal helmet law is reinstated, Pennsylvania needs effective voluntary strategies to increase helmet use."
Motorcycle helmet laws have weakened nationwide since 1975, when the federal government stopped withholding highway money from states without such regulations. Only 20 states now have laws that require all riders to wear helmets.
|Contact: Clare Collins|
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences