Riding a bicycle is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to get around and exercise at the same time.
Unfortunately riding a bike puts you at risk from bicycle accidents. Bicycle-related injuries account for more than 1.2 million physician visits each year in the United States.
As the saying goes ‘know your enemy’ so let’s take a look at some of the more common injuries sustained from bicycle accidents.
First lets quickly glance over how to avoid bicycle accidents in the first place.
How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents
Before we take a closer look at the most common injuries resulting from bike accidents, let’s take a look at how best to avoid them. While we might not be able to make ourselves completely accident-proof, there are certainly a few steps we can take to reduce the risks.
- Always wear bright clothing, even during the day
- Always wear a helmet
- If you have to ride at night, then always use lights
- Never pass vehicles on the right
- Avoid ‘dooring’ by keeping as far left as safely possible when driving in busy urban areas
- Never cycle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
- Be aware of vehicle blind spots and stay out of them
- Always slow down and signal before turning
- Invest in a mirror for your bike
- Don’t listen to music while cycling, especially if you’re riding amidst traffic
- Don’t use your phone while cycling
- Take a bicycle safety course
Keeping these in mind at all times when you’re on your bike will certainly help reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. Remember it is always important to be fully aware of your surroundings, as visible as possible, and always take the lane when appropriate.
The Most Common Bicycle Injuries
No matter how much effort we make to steer clear of incidents, there is always an element of risk when getting on a bike and sharing the road with other vehicles. Let’s take a look at some of the most common injuries incurred from cycling accidents.
New York reported that 74% of its fatal bike accidents were the result of a head injury, and in almost every case the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet. Fortunately, only a minority of head injuries prove fatal.
The most common head injuries from bicycle accidents are:
- Skull, maxillofacial and jaw fractures
- Concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries)
- Facial contusions
- Brain contusions
The severity of most head injuries can be greatly reduced, if not completely avoided, by wearing a helmet.
Bone fractures are a common occurrence from bicycle accidents. Most often it is the bones of the hands and wrist that are fractured when trying to break the fall. Other common fractures include the collarbone, forearm, hip, and ankle.
All fractures will require medical treatment and some form of physical therapy to assist with the healing process. Stiffness and discomfort following a fracture can last over a year.
Dislocations of the joint are most likely to occur in the fingers and result from cyclists putting their hands out in an attempt to break their fall. The shoulder and elbow are also frequently dislocated this way.
While dislocations are less severe than fractures they still require medical attention and physical therapy following the injury. When you dislocate a joint you can also risk tearing the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that support that joint. This will sometimes need surgery and can leave the joint more prone to future injury.
Muscular strains come in three categories.
- Mild Strains where the muscle or tendon is slightly stretched or pulled
- Moderate Strains where the muscle or tendon is overstretched and slightly torn
- Severe Strains where the muscle or tendon is completely torn
While mild and moderate strains will often heal themselves over time, severe strains require surgery to reattach the muscle or tendon.
Chipped, crack, and missing teeth are commonly associated with bike accidents as a helmet might protect your skull, but it doesn’t protect your face. Dental work can be expensive, especially if teeth need replacing with implants.
You might have heard the term ‘road rash’ used among motorcyclists, but it can happen to cyclists too. Road rash is the name used for abrasion caused by road surfaces. It’s a lot more common on your forearms and lower legs -basically areas that aren’t covered by clothing.
Depending on the severity of road rash, it might be important to seek medical assistance, especially to make sure any debris is removed from the wound
Things to Check After a Bike Accident
If you are involved in a bike accident, even if it seems minor, there are issues that you might not realize immediately. It’s important to be sure you’re injury-free before you declare yourself fine to a bicycle accident lawyer. Some injuries might only present symptoms days after the accident. As a result, it’s important to check for a few things following an accident
Get Your Head Checked
If you hit your head then have it checked by a medical professional. If you lose consciousness, feel confused, experience headaches, or changes in your vision then its vital you get checked out as soon as possible. If there’s a crack in your helmet then it’s a sure sign that you’ve taken a significant blow to the head.
Take a Deep Breath
It’s important to check your breathing to make sure there’s no damage to your ribs or even a punctured lung. If you experience any pain when taking a deep breath then you should visit the emergency room immediately.
Spine and Neck
If you think there is any chance that you’ve damaged your neck or spine then stay still and wait for medical attention. Discomfort or difficulty moving your head, numbness, tingling or the inability to move your fingers or toes are all potential signs of damage to the spine. Stay still and wait to avoid any further damage to your spinal cord.
Obviously, you’ll want to check your entire body for any wounds you might have incurred, but you also want to check for internal bleeding. Check your body for any unusually firm or distended areas that could be a sign of internal bleeding.
Most bicycle accidents result in minor injuries, but they also have the potential to be life-changing. Always stay alert when you’re out riding and if you are involved in an accident that isn’t your fault, then making sure you have a good injury lawyer can help you claim any compensation you’re entitled to.
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