Brain Injuries and Motorcycle Accidents

August 30, 2022

One of the biggest risks associated with riding a motorcycle is a catastrophic injury resulting from an accident. While motorcycle riders are at risk for all types of injuries due to the exposed nature of using a motorcycle, brain injuries and head injuries can be the most dangerous. 

Minnesota Motorcycle Accident Statistics

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there were just over 1,000 motorcycle crashes in Minnesota during 2020. Of those crashes, 926 caused injuries, and 64 resulted in death. Overall, motorcycle deaths in Minnesota increased by 43 percent from 2019 to 2020. Most crashes involved a collision with another non-motorcycle vehicle.  The second most common type of crash involved a collision with a fixed non-vehicle object, such as a utility post or a tree. Importantly, more than 60 percent of motorcyclists killed and more than half of motorcyclists injured in 2020 on Minnesota roads were not wearing a helmet. 


What about helmets? 

As illustrated by the Department of Public Safety, wearing a helmet can be assistive in preventing injuries, but even with a helmet on, safety isn’t guaranteed. 40 percent of Minnesota motorcyclists who were seriously injured in accidents during 2020 were wearing a helmet. And furthermore, Minnesota law doesn’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets. 

In other words, while wearing a helmet can protect a motorcycle user to some degree, even helmets cannot prevent head and brain injuries when accidents occur at high rates of speed.


What types of brain injuries do motorcyclists experience? 

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the catch-all term for brain injuries resulting from trauma, such as a motorcycle accident. In a motorcycle clash, traumatic brain injuries can occur from a person’s head striking any surface, such as pavement, the motorcycle’s handlebars, another vehicle, or a foreign object. 

Types of traumatic brain injuries include concussions, brain bleeds, brain bruises (contusions), hemorrhages, coup-contrecoup injuries which involve an initial impact and an opposite injury due to the brain striking the other side of the skull, and skull injuries. 

Motorcyclists are vulnerable to all of these types of brain injury, and any type of brain injury carries serious risks for lifelong harm, including physical, mental, and behavioral impairments. 


Why are traumatic brain injuries serious? 

Brain injuries are uniquely harmful because unlike other parts of the body, the brain has very little capacity to heal itself. When the brain is severely injured, it is highly likely that the injuries will be permanent.

After many severe brain injuries, the body goes into a coma, and if a person wakes up, it is generally unknown what the long-term effects of an injury will be. Long-term effects can include memory loss, confusion, difficulty with speech, loss of sensory abilities, loss of fine motor skills, and chronic pain, in addition to psychological effects such as a change in personality, mood shifts, and PTSD. 

Additionally, brain injuries can place stress on a person’s family and friends, as many individuals with brain injuries require assistance and care in completing daily tasks. All in all, brain injuries are life altering and should be avoided at all costs.