212656 Comparing Youth Motorcycle-Related Traumatic Brain Injury in States with Different Helmet Laws; US, 2005-2007

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Yll Agimi, MPH , Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Harold B. Weiss, PhD , Center for Injury Research and Control, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Claudia Steiner, MD, MPH , Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Rockville, MD
David Houston, PhD , Department of Political Science, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Purpose: In the US, 27 states have partial (age-specific) youth helmet laws, even though they have been shown to lead to decreased helmet use and increased fatalities. This study quantifies the injury impact of partial helmet laws on hospitalized traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Methods: We used the 2005-2007 HCUP-SID, a census of inpatient discharges from short-term stay hospitals in 39 states representing about 90% of US inpatient discharges. The study focused on 9,287 youth motorcycle traffic injuries. Among the SID states, 17 had universal laws, six had age<21 laws, and 12 had age<18 laws. This cross-sectional analysis examined the null hypothesis in the proportion of TBI cases between states where different helmet laws apply.

Results Universal law states had a significantly lower percentage of intracranial injury discharges; 16.2% versus 18.0% for <21 y/o laws and 20.2% for <18 y/o laws. The relative risk of a serious/severe head injury for partial law states was 1.37 (95% CI = 1.23-1.54). Universal helmet law states had a significantly lower percentage of youth dying in-hospital.

Conclusions: Partial age helmet laws result in increased risk of hospitalized TBI, severe TBI and in-hospital death among youth. Thus, the youngest and least experienced segment of motorcycle riders receives inadequate head protection with partial age laws. States with partial laws should address ways to improve enforcement and examine methods to ensure compliance or they must acknowledge that they are not as effective in preventing TBI as Universal helmet laws are.

Learning Objectives:
Examine the injury impact of partial helmet laws on hospitalized traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Keywords: Injury Risk, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh. Also, I am a Doctoral student at the same university. I have spend two years as a research fellow at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration working on traffic related injuries.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.