Mild Concussions Can Cause Lasting Brain Damage

Yes, you really do need a bike helmet. Even mild concussions can cause lasting brain damage, new study finds.

Published: July 19, 2014 06:00 AM

When I learned how to ride a bike in the early 1960s, the only accessories we considered were a basket, a bell, and, if I had saved up enough money, a speedometer. A helmet? Hardly. They weren’t even made until the 70s. More than a few times I took a header over the handlebars. And a study out this week emphasizes just how lucky I was to not hit my noggin—and how important a properly fitted bike helmet can be.

British researchers looked at 53 people 16 to 68 years old who had recently been to an emergency room after suffering a mild (44 people) or moderate (9 people) concussion. All had an MRI of their brain within an average of 6 days of their injury. The scans showed signs of damage to nerve cells in the brain responsible for transmitting information, compared with a group of 33 people without brain injury who also had MRIs. The injured people also performed 25 percent worse, on average, in a “verbal letter influency” test, which evaluates thinking and memory skills by seeing how many words one can think of that begin with the same letter. A year letter, people with brain injury showed improved cognitive function, comparable to the uninjured group—but still had signs of damaged brain cells. The study was published in the journal Neurology.

Read more about the importance of wearing a helmet while bicycling or engaged in other recreational activities. If you are in the market for a bike helmet, read our bike helmet buying guide. And watch our video below to see how we test bike helmets.

A decade ago, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called mild traumatic brain injury a silent epidemic. Since then, awareness of the problem has grown, as shown by President Obama’s support earlier this summer for more research on brain injuries in teens from sports, and the increased concern about concussions in football. But 2 million to 4 million people each year still suffer concussions from recreational activities, according to the American Academy of Neurology. “The scientific evidence continues to mount regarding the effects of concussion,” Orly Avitzur, M.D., a practicing neurologist and medical adviser to Consumer Reports and the New York Rangers, said. “This study should serve as yet another wake up call to athletes, trainers, coaches, and parents of young athletes. It’s also another good reason to remember to wear a helmet when riding a bike, skiing, or horseback riding.”

— Chris Hendel…

The Justice for Children Foundation
Children’s injuries are no accident


Howard Spiva, founder of the Justice For Children Foundation (JFCF), believes there are no “accidents,” only injuries that could have Mission JFCF promotes community awareness of child safety through classes, events, sponsorships, fundraising, and association memberships.

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Each year, more than 130 children die from falls, and 2,500,000 are treated for injuries in emergency rooms.

Howard Spiva, founder of the Justice For Children Foundation (JFCF), believes there are no “accidents,” only injuries that could have been prevented.


Justice For Children Foundation, Inc. as a non-profit is primarily concerned with preventing brain injuries to children. We provide FREE helmets to families to protect children in car wrecks. A child in a car safety seat is about the only activity remaining in America where head gear is not provided. Everyone else like bull riders, karate participants, race car drivers, skaters, bicyclist, football players… they all wear helmets. We want kids to know that Helmets are cool!


Howard Spiva
A Proud supporter of
The Justice for Children Foundation
Children’s injuries are no accident

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