Statistics of admissions to the Trauma Centre of Prince of Wales Hospital over the last five years showed that cycling-related traumatic brain injury is on the rise. A survey conducted by the Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery and Accident & Emergency Medicine Academic Unit at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) shows that cycling-related traumatic brain injury can have a profound impact on the injured and may lead to death and permanent damage to health. Even minor symptoms can affect daily activities of the patients.
The Trauma Centre of Prince of Wales Hospital recorded 151 cases of cycling-related traumatic brain injury in 2011, indicating a significant increase of 1.25 times compared to 67 reported cases in 2006; the overall traumatic brain injury associated mortality rate even doubled (4 deaths in 2011; 2 deaths in 2006). Serious injuries such as skull fractures and intracranial haemorrhage increased by at least 20%. Only about 7 patients (4.6%) reported use of helmet when the accidents happened.
During the period of January to December 2011, CUHK research team conducted a survey among 40 patients (age 16 to 70) with minor injuries for six months after cycling accidents. Five patients (12.5%) reported persistent bodily pain; ten patients (25%) admitted that the injuries affected their social functioning and impaired their physical role. Some patients became anxious or depressed more easily after the head injuries, with a certain degree of emotional disturbance.
The research team suggests that there is a pressing need to advocate widespread helmet use and preventive and protective measures among the general public to reduce cycling accidents and related traumatic brain injury.