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Without helmets, Michigan motorcycle head injuries rise

Michigan used to have a law requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. That law was then repealed, and a new study shows that head injuries are, not surprisingly, on the rise.

Many bikers did still wear helmets, but the study found that they were 24 percent less likely to do so after the law was taken off of the books. In a corresponding move, the odds of suffering a head injury in a motorcycle crash climbed by 14 percent.

In addition to the rising odds of an injury, the study found that the severity of the injuries changed, at least among riders who ended up in the emergency room. The amount of mild concussions dropped and the amount of skull fractures rose. The implication here is that some bikers who may have had mild concussions with helmets on ended up with fractured skulls because they were not wearing those helmets.

The law was eliminated in 2012, and this is the first statewide investigation that has been carried out to study the impact.

The point of changing the helmet law was not that officials felt helmets were not needed, but rather that the state was trying to boost tourism. Some bikers who travel around the United States stick to states where they don't need helmets, for instance, because that way they don't have to carry a helmet for the entire trip, just to wear it in Michigan.

Head injuries suffered in any motor vehicle accidents can be devastating, sometimes leading to the need for life-long care for a permanent injury or disability. Those who are facing high costs and serious life changes may be able to seek financial compensation.

Source: Reuters, "Head injuries climb after Michigan repeals helmet law," Ronnie Cohen, Dec. 01, 2016

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