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Virginia Tech begins bicycle helmet safety study

Most bicycle riders in our state prefer to wear a helmet when they go riding. The obvious purpose for using a helmet is to prevent head and brain injuries in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, anyone choosing a helmet for safety reasons may be defeated by the overwhelming number of different models currently being sold. For this reason, researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, more familiarly known as Virginia Tech, is beginning an investigation into the safety features of different models of bike helmets.

The impetus for the study is revealed by the results of an search for "bicycle helmet." The result yields 10,000 choices at prices ranging from $7 to several hundred dollars. The study plans to rate helmets on a scale of one to five, five stars being the safest. The large number of people riding bicycles means that the sport produces more brain injuries (mostly concussions) than football or hockey. The large number of different helmet models means that the researchers will limit themselves to examining only the models that are widely available in stores or on line.

Existing research has shown that a fall from a bicycle causes a head injuries that are different from injuries caused by football, hockey and other impact sports. Cyclists usually fall sideways instead of hitting something (or someone) head-on, and the cyclist's head strikes the ground at a side angle. The researchers are designing equipment that will mimic this effect. Early test results have revealed a large differential in how different helmets perform in protecting the wearer.

Some bicycle accidents are caused solely by the rider, but others are the result of someone's negligence, such as an automobile driver's failure to signal a turn. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in such an accident may wish to consult a lawyer who handles accident cases for an evaluation of the facts and law that will govern the case and an estimate of the chances of recovering damages.

Source: WSLS, "Virginia Tech helmet study expands to include bike helmets," Erin Brookshier, Feb. 13, 2018

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