Re: published helmet research - not troll
Jay Beattie wrote:
> And the New York Times wrote on May 1, 2001 that:
> "A report last summer on "The Future of Children" noted that 35
> states lacked bicycle helmet laws, even though "research has
> shown that bicycle helmets are 85 percent effective at reducing
> head injuries."
They should have at least hedged by saying "up to 85%." This number
came from the Thompson & Rivara case-control study of 1989. In order to
get that high number, T&R had to count even scratches on ears as "head
injuries," and had to compare wildly different groups. Yes, if you
compare helmeted middle class white kids with excellent insurance
coverage (i.e. free ER) riding on bike paths, versus unhelmeted
low-income kids who only go to the ER if it's really serious, and who
ride on streets, you'll get good results for helmets!
That's only a slight exaggeration. If you want a more serious
discussion of the shortcomings of that study, seehttp://www.cyclehelmets.org/mf.html#1001
> A study in Queensland, Australia, of bicycle
> accidents among children showed that wearing a helmet reduced the
> risk of loss of consciousness from a head injury by 86 percent.
Did they give a source for that?
Other pro-helmet studies from Australia have done things like ignore the
drop in cycling, ignore the concurrent installation of speed cameras and
stiff drunk driving enforcement, etc. to maximize the supposed helmet
benefit. Still, this is the first time I recall any study but T&R's
coming anywhere close to 85%. Despite the fudging, other pro-helmet
studies come out much lower. I'd like to check the original paper.
> Even preschoolers who do not ride in traffic and toddlers on
> tricycles need head protection "whenever and wherever they are
> cycling," insists Dr. Elizabeth C. Powell of Children's Memorial
> Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Powell, a specialist in pediatric
> emergency medicine, notes that helmets can also reduce the risk
> of facial injuries when a child falls off a tricycle or bicycle."
Why of course they can! Also while playing hopscotch, of course.
> I guess it all depends on whether you live in New Zeland or
> Australia. Or whether you are Rivera or Scuffham. For every
> scientific study you come up with, I can find one or two that go
> the other way.
I take a different view. In fact, most scientists take a different view
in such situations.
When cold fusion was trumpeted about 15 years ago, there was one team
(similar to Thompson & Rivara) that published a miracle of success.
There were others who disagreed.
The scientific community didn't say "Oh well, it can go either way."
They kept testing.
In the long run, cold fusion seems to be a dud - at least, by the method
This seems to be what's happening with bike helmet research. T&R have
gained fame by saying "85%!!!" but results of mandatory helmet laws
(passed as a result) are pretty dismal. Some other self-selected
case-control studies still give optimistic results, but large population
It may be that helmets help only if you're lucky enough to be part of a
case-control study, I don't know. But it's worth remembering that
self-selected case-control studies are never accepted for the usual
questions, like "Does this drug prevent cancer" and the like. It's far
to easy to bias the results.
> And in the final analysis, it really does not
> matter, because we all just do what we do -- and, with minor
> exception, we are all too old for the MHLs in most states. MLHs
> are mostly a kid thing, and my kid wears a helmet when he is
> riding or skiing -- but not when he is walking, showering, or
> playing with his Legos or YuGiOh cards. Yes, I know that is
> inconsistent when we look at injury patterns, but we have learned
> to live with that inconsistency. -- Jay Beattie.
Perhaps it really does not matter to you. But it really does matter to
I'm bothered by the portrayal of all cycling as an extreme activity.
I'm bothered that there have already been attempts to blame cyclists for
injuries caused by negligent drivers, because the cyclist didn't wear a
helmet. I'm bothered by the drop in cycling caused by enforced MHLs,
and I'm bothered by the mixed message given to kids by America's
unenforced MHLs. And I'm bothered by pro-helmet prejudice and the
resulting lack of rigor when examining supposed pro-helmet data.
You'll decide for your kid, of course. But I kind of hope you'll
somehow stay away from statements like "Omigod, NEVER ride without a
helmet!!!" If you want to scare him, it's better to just tell him about
Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com,
replace with cc.ysu dot edu]