“Although the number of accidents is quite high, luckily most
lesions are minor,” said senior author Dr. Alexander Van Tongel of
Ghent University Hospital.
The researchers studied an acute injury registry for the years 2002
and 2012 in Flanders. There were 777 documented reports of accidents
with more than 1,000 injuries during non-professional cycling
In 2002, almost 16 percent of registered riders were injured during
competition, and 7 percent had more than one accident. About a third
of incidents in each year resulted in severe injuries, most commonly
injuries of the hand or shoulder.
There were 30 concussions in 2002 and 35 in 2012. In both seasons,
colliding with another rider was by far the most frequently reported
accident cause, as reported in the British Journal of Sports
“What you have to underline is these are competitive injuries,” said
Dr. Mark Greve of the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown
University in Providence, Rhode Island.
“Cycling events overall have a six times higher rate of injuries
than normal bike riding in the community.”
Greve cautioned against applying these results to all types of
Cycling can be beneficial for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes
and asthma, among other conditions, so the benefits still outweigh
the risks, which are relatively small, Greve told Reuters Health.
“As shown in the study, most injuries are caused by collision with
other riders,” Van Tongel said by email. “Although the numbers of
races in one year are limited for several age groups, currently the
number of participants is not limited.”
“The most important risk is head and severe brain injuries,” he
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The International Cycling Union made hard shell helmets compulsory
for races in 2003, and several studies confirm the protective effect
of wearing a bicycle helmet for injuries of the head and face, he
Shoulder injuries, which are also common, usually heal well with
conservative treatment but the competitor will be out of competition
for several weeks, Van Tongel said.
“In our opinion, it is very important to wear a hard shell helmet,”
“When evaluating competitive races, our data showed that young
riders crashed more because of rider related factors as compared to
adult riders,” possibly due to lack of experience, he said. “Smaller
pelotons and more training on steering skills instead of speed
training may be helpful to reduce the risk during competition.”
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/22I7uXS British Journal of Sports Medicine,
online March 11, 2016.
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