30% of cyclists admitted to hospital were involved in a collision with a vehicle

A medical expert has quantified the greater risk to cyclists who do not wear a bike helmet.

30% of cyclists admitted to hospital were involved in a collision with a vehicle

A medical expert has quantified the greater risk to cyclists who do not wear a bike helmet.

A study of 410 cyclists who suffered major trauma over a three-year period found there was a lower incidence of head injury among those wearing helmets.

Data from 2014 to 2016 shows that 27% of those wearing helmets suffered head injuries, compared to 52% who had no helmet.

Dr John Cronin a consultant in emergency medicine at St Vincent's University Hospital Dublin said the database only captured cyclists who made it to hospital.

“We found that those who did not have a helmet had a significantly higher incidence of head injury,” Dr Cronin told a trauma conference at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

The study found that 81 of the 410 major trauma cyclists, about 20%, were admitted to intensive care.

There were 12 fatalities. Of those admitted to intensive care, five were wearing a helmet.

Dr Cronin said the cyclists were mostly men; they were younger than other trauma patients and tended to have more severe injuries.

The head was the most commonly injured body part. Of the cyclists admitted to hospital 25% had a serious head injury.

Dr Cronin said that in about 40% of cases it was not specified how the cyclist got injured.

“There were single bicycle collisions so we need to interview cyclists to find out how and what happened to them at the time of the trauma," he said.

Just over 30% of cyclists collided with a motor vehicle and about half of the collisions occurred during rush-hour.

Consultant in emergency medicine at Cork University Hospital, Dr Conor Deasy, who also spoke at the conference, said integrated trauma networks are lifesaving.

The conference heard that one life a week could be saved in Ireland and many more people prevented from lifelong injury if an integrated trauma network was introduced.

“We need them because they improve outcomes dramatically,” said Dr Deasy who is also clinical lead for the National Office of Clinical Audits' Major Trauma Audit in Ireland.

A trauma system was introduced in England and the odds of survival increased by “a massive” 57% over the subsequent two years, he pointed out.

They stopped bringing patients to small hospitals that did not have the expertise and started bringing them directly to trauma centres.

The Department of Health published a report “A Trauma System for Ireland” last year that set out the blueprint for an integrated trauma network in Ireland.

It recommends that there are two major trauma centres, one at CUH and the other at a hospital in Dublin.

The centres will be supported by trauma units throughout the country.

A process is underway to designate the major trauma centre and two to three trauma units in the Dublin region.

The Mater Hospital is aiming to be designated as the major trauma centre in Dublin.

Professor Mark Fitzgerald, one of the world's leading trauma experts from the Alfred Hospital Major Trauma Service in Melbourne, Australia, oversaw the introduction of a major network in the state of Victoria.

Prof Fitzgerald told the conference that within five years deaths from trauma across the state had fallen by 50%.

“I'm pleased to see progress towards the implementation of a major trauma network here but it needs to be done as soon as possible so lives can be saved,” he said.

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