Though road rash and broken legs are common enough in bicycle vs. motor vehicle crashes, it’s head injuries that are the most serious and potentially life-altering. When it comes to head injury care, you can minimize the damage by protecting your head before, during and after a bicycle accident.

Before Hitting The Road

A study by Dr. Michael Henderson of the Motor Accidents Authority of New South Wales, Australia reports that bicycle helmets reduce chances of serious head injury by 45 percent or more. The trick is to wear the helmet correctly when you ride. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following steps for proper helmet installation:

  • Wear a helmet that covers the top of the forehead and lies flat on the top of your head.
  • Always fasten your chin strap directly below the chin.
  • Check visibility. If the straps or helmet block your vision, use a different piece of headgear.
  • Test the helmet by gripping it firmly and trying to twist and turn your head. Tighten the helmet if you move your head, but not your helmet.

Other pre-ride steps to improve head safety include planning a safe route, carrying a cell phone, and cycling in places and times with high visibility.

During your ride

You’re unlikely to have much time to do anything during the actual collision, but what you do in the first few minutes can greatly affect your level of injury and prognosis for recovery.

  • Aim your cycle for the safest place possible given the circumstances. For example, hit a car’s passenger section rather than the hood or trunk to avoid flying across the vehicle.
  • Don’t move once you come to rest after the accident, as this can exacerbate many injuries. If head trauma makes you dizzy, getting up can mean another fall and more potential damage. The only exception is if you’re in a high traffic roadway and risk getting hit by another car if you stay put.
  • Crawl or roll if you must move. This minimizes your risk of falling, and engages fewer muscles and bones.
  • Ask somebody to call emergency services immediately. Don’t argue or negotiate with the at-fault driver. Simply wait for the police to arrive. Their report will be essential if there is need for a bicycle accident lawsuit.

Seeking medical attention

Symptoms of head trauma can go unnoticed for several days, especially in bicycle collisions that resulted in other painful injuries. In the time after the accident, practice self care by following these steps from

  • Go to the hospital or urgent care for a check-up, even if you don’t feel any immediate pain. Early detection is essential to proper treatment – and the visit leaves a record of your treatment and symptoms.
  • Rest as much as possible, including resting your eyes, for the first 24 hours after the crash.
  • Use ice to reduce pain and swelling. Over the counter pain medication may be all right with doctor approval.
  • Contact your doctor if you have trouble waking up, if symptoms worsen or if they last more than 6 weeks.
  • Go to the hospital, or call 911, if you bleed from your ears or nose, feel nauseous, or have problems with your memory or vision.
  • Get immediate medical attention if you lose consciousness, have seizures or have difficulty responding to normal conversations.

The results of the kind of head trauma that stems from a bicycle accident can be life-altering and tragic. Though a bicycle crash lawsuit might help alleviate the damage, it’s best to suffer as little as possible under the circumstances.