The human head is a delicate and complex part of the body and is of extreme importance to the way we function and live. All our bodily systems and actions are controlled by various parts of the brain. For example movement and balance is controlled by the motor cortex, the brain stem and the cerebellum. Every action we carry out, from breathing to scratching our nose, is dictated by the grey matter in between our ears.
The head is constantly at risk due to its fragility. Many day to day accidents can result in a knock to the head and many accidents caused by someone else can result in an injury of this kind. Even simple accidents like banging your head on a shelf or falling over, hold an element of risk. If unconsciousness lasts longer than 15 minutes then it’s possible that some quite serious damage could have been done to the brain. Whilst most accidents involving a head injury are not too serious and lead to total recovery, some result in the patient having to relearn basic life skills and rely on the care of others for much of their lives. Rehabilitation is a large aspect of the recovery of a patient who has a severe brain injury.
A deadly epidemic amongst road users
The causes of head injuries are wide ranging but according to government statistics around 40% to 50% are the result of a road traffic accident. A head injury from a road traffic accident is also more likely to be serious because of the speed and nature of car crashes and other road accidents. Industrial and domestic accidents account for between 20% and 30% of head injuries, sports injuries 10-15% and assaults 10%.
Head injuries and the motorcyclist
The incidences of people killed or injured in a motorcycle accident speak for themselves.
These are the latest available government statistics and cover the year 2000 (www.dot.gov.uk): "There were 28,768 two wheeled motor vehicles users’ casualties, 2 per cent more than in 2000. The number killed fell 4 per cent to 581 and the number of seriously injured fell 1 per cent to 6,718."
However, this shows a massive 24% rise above the 1994/1998 baseline average for all bike casualties. Or to put it another way. In one year alone: Over 10 riders a week died. Nearly 20 were seriously injured every day. Plus 400 a week were slightly hurt.
According a Cochrane review entitled ‘Helmets for preventing injury in motorcycle riders’: “Injuries to the head, following motorcycle crashes, are a common cause of severe morbidity and mortality. It seems intuitive that helmets should protect against head injuries but it has been argued that motorcycle helmet use decreases rider vision and increases neck injuries.” Whilst better safety helmets are a real concern the actions of other drivers are of paramount importance in the drive for a reduction in head injuries sustained by motorcyclists.
There are many people who are left suffering and in pain after a road traffic accident, especially motorbike users. Whilst they are a minority on the roads the number of accidents that involve a motorbike are high. Often the accidents are the fault of the car driver and negligence is not difficult to prove.
When someone has had an accident that was someone else’s fault and this can be proven then they are legally entitled to claim compensation for their suffering. When you are injured because of someone else it is classed as a personal injury and your losses and suffering can be compensated for. Head injuries are serious and frequently life threatening. People who have been affected may have their life changed forever. Help is at hand for people in this position as personal injury compensation can be sought. In addition, rehabilitation and medical costs can be recouped from the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.
Greater knowledge about safety on the roads is imperative as is the awareness of the presence of motorcyclists by other road users. Whilst prevention is better than cure however there are many specialist services available to people who are suffering from a head injury.