Trauma Surgeon-Led and Funded Injury Prevention Program Decreases Admission for Motorcycle Crash Injuries

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Background: Unhelmeted motorcyclists injured in states with lax or poorly enforced helmet safety laws are frequently seen in rural trauma centers. A trauma surgeon started a comprehensive injury prevention and research fund with outreach to a three-state trauma center catchment area promoting injury prevention at area high schools and local communities. We hypothesized that unhelmeted riders would have more severe head injuries and fatalities than helmeted riders. Methods: A trauma registry review of 708 injured motorcycle riders over an 11-year period examined demographics, helmet use, and clinical outcomes of helmeted and unhelmeted riders. A full-time injury prevention coordinator collaborating with law enforcement provided electronic and mechanical simulations with discussions regarding helmet use, alcohol avoidance, and responsible motorcycle riding for area high school students. This program coincided with the second half of our 11-year study. Multiple regression analysis evaluated predictors for head injury and death. Results: Unhelmeted motorcyclists suffered worse head injuries, (OR 8.8, CI 1.6-2.4, P <.001), more severe overall injury (OR 10, CI 12.7-18.6, P <.001), and higher mortality (OR 2.7, CI.02-.15, P <.001). Local motorcycle-related trauma center admissions and deaths have stabilized in recent years while statewide motorcycle crashes have increased (P <.05). Discussion: Unhelmeted motorcyclists suffer worse head injuries and mortality rates. Physician-led outreach efforts for injury prevention may be effective. Trauma surgeons have ongoing opportunities to promote responsible motorcycle riding for schools and local communities.