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Do Dirt Bike Neck Braces Work?

Over the 10 years of analysis, the EMS group have heard various claims that have been made against the use of motorcycle neck braces.
motorcycle accident neck brace statistics

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Should I Wear A Motocross Neck Brace Debate – Do They Work?

There are now real world statistics proving the motocross neck braces do in fact work. Great Lakes EMS is an ambulance service that caters to the amateur motorsports world. More specifically motocross, and racing in the USA.

The study of rider injuries and safety gear has been their focus since 2013, and since then they have gathered 10 years of data to share with the motorsports industry. The following information is their report on the study of motocross neck brace effectiveness. You can view the full report here. If you’re just looking for the best neck brace, check out my review of the top dirt bike neck braces.

Over the 10 years of analysis, the EMS group have heard various claims that have been made against the use of motorcycle neck braces. Whether these be personal opinions, stories heard through the grapevine, or words of “wisdom” past down from father to son. Here are a few that you might be familiar with

  • It will break your collarbone.
  • You can’t look up towards a jump or hill.
  • The Pro’s don’t wear them.
  • It will cause nerve damage or paralysis by breaking your upper back.
  • They restrict movement.
  • They are stupid looking.
  • None of them fit right.

Riders need to be educated about what a neck brace can and can’t do. Many of the principal’s from the points above can be said for seat belts and air bag’s many years ago. Great Lakes EMS have set out to disprove many of these myths and have done an outstanding job doing so.

The results shared through their studies have shown that manufacturers of neck braces have indeed made Motorsport more safe and are providing the intended results – as they had claimed many years back.

The data collected in the study spans over a period of nearly 10 years (from 2009 until 2018) and includes 9430 patients. Of these patients, 8529 fall into the criteria of wearing (or not wearing) a neck brace, along with Cervical Spine and/or Clavicle injuries, and/or deaths.

The remaining subjects were studied prior to the brace or no brace question was implemented – in these cases, subjects were excluded from the study.Out of the 8529 recorded patients, 4726 of them were marked as not wearing a brace during the time or place of injury. The remaining 3803 were all wearing a neck brace during the time of injury. FYI – for all of you that are not statisticians, this is a very robust sample size for both the “YES” and “NO” subjects. Below are the astonishing results.

1. A Critical Cervical Spine Injury is 89% More Likely Without a Neck Brace.

Neck brace effectiveness

Over the course of the 10 year study, there were 239 recorded cases of Critical Cervical Spine injuries without a neck brace, and 26 with a neck brace.

2. Death is 69%+* More Likely (Due to Cervical Spine Injury) Without a Neck Brace.

should i wear a motorcycle neck brace

Over the course of the 10 year study, there were 4 recorded cases of death caused by Critical Cervical Spine injuries without a neck brace, and just 1 with a neck brace. *It should be noted that the patient who experienced death with the neck brace had a full Cervical Spine Fusion from a previous injury, and received a blunt force (part of the motorcycle) directly to the back of the neck. Since the injury falls into our report criteria the accident is included in this report, but the circumstances are worth mentioning.

3. A Non-Critical Cervical Spine Injury is 75% More Likely Without a Neck Brace.

should i wear a motorcycle neck brace

Over the course of the 10 year study, there were 702 recorded cases of Non-Critical Cervical Spine injuries without a neck brace, and just 109 with a neck brace.

4. A Clavicle (Collarbone) Fracture is 45% More Likely Without a Neck Brace.

neck brace safety

Over the course of the 10 year study, there were 443 recorded Clavicle fractures without a neck brace, and 291 with a neck brace.

5. Cervical Spine Injuries Sustained Without a Neck Brace Are More Severe, Require Greater Care

Motorcycle neck brace statistics

As shown in the left above, of the 239 Critical Cervical Spine injuries without a neck brace (Shown in black), 100% (239) of them required a hospital admit (Yellow) and ALS transport (Orange), compared to just 73%, and 42% for neck brace wearers respectively (Right chart, same colors).

Of the 239 Critical Cervical Spine injuries without a neck brace, 87% (207) received Spinal Immobilization(Red), where as of the 26 Critical Cervical Spine injuries with a neck brace, 76% (22) were immobilized.

6. A Cervical Spine Injury of Any Kind is 82% More Likely Without a Neck Brace.

Motorcycle neck brace statistics

Over the course of the 10 year study, combining all critical and non critical Cervical Spine injuries, 945 injuries were recorded without a neck brace (20% of 4726 people), and 136 with a neck brace (3.5% of 3803 people).

Do motocross neck braces work?

There is statistical evidence proving that motocross neck braces do in fact aid in preventing serious damage to dirt bike riders. The data supports manufacturer claims of neck protectors improving rider safety.

How should a motocross neck brace fit?

A motocross neck brace should sit lightly across the shoulders and clavicle while providing enough room between the brace and the bottom of the dirt bike helmet. The brace should fit firm enough not to move easily, but not so firm to cause any discomfort.

The results appear to be conclusive – now it’s up to you to decide whether you want to ride with one or not.

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