Background: Singapore has a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists. This study aimed to determine the injuries sustained by helmeted motorcyclists presenting to the emergency Department (ED).
Methods: Adult victims of motor vehicular incidents (MVI) who presented to an urban public hospital ED from 1 December 1998 to 31 May 1999 were interviewed. Chart reviews were done for those hospitalised. Data collected were demographic, nature of injury, ambulance care, ED and hospital care, outcome and final diagnoses.
Results: Motorcyclists formed 49.1% (1018) of all MVI victims, of whom 96.1% were men. The mean age was 32.5 years (SD 13.1), significantly younger (p<0.0001) than the mean age of 36.4 years (SD 16.4) among other MVI victims. The proportions of motorcyclists and other MVI patients admitted to the hospital were not different. Among those admitted, significantly fewer (p = 0.001) motorcyclists (32.2%) sustained head injury compared with other MVI victims (46.8%) but among the motorcyclists with head injury, more than one third (34.2%) had severe head injury. The proportion of patients with thoracic injury was not different (p = 0.93) between motorcyclists (10.2%) and other MVI victims (9.9%). However, among those with thoracic injury, 79.2% of motorcyclists had severe thoracic injury, significantly more (p = 0.04) than 50% of other MVI patients. Wounds, fractures, and/or dislocations of the limbs (p<0.001) were significantly more among motorcyclists compared with other MVI patients.
Conclusion: Compared with other MVI victims, fewer helmeted motorcyclists sustained head injury. When head injury occurs in helmeted motorcyclists, it tends to be more severe. Motorcyclists remain vulnerable to extremity injury and to severe chest injury.
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Funding: this study was supported in part by a grant from Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.
Conflicts of interest: none declared.