Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Bicycle Helmets after COVID-19 infections

Summary: A 2023 study of high school athletes showed that those who had recently had COVID-19 were three times more likely to suffer a concussion within 60 days of returning to play than others who had not had Covid. The reasons are unknown. We have not identified any helmets that are intentionally designed for that condition, although current helmets do provide good protection. We recommend a helmet with a well rounded, smooth exterior that fits you well. And obviously the best prevention is increased care to avoid crashes after recovering from a Covid infection.

If you have had COVID-19 and are looking for a helmet, there are some considerations you should be aware of.

Researchers at several colleges collaborated on a study of concussions among high school athletes who were returning to sports after a COVID-19 infection. They had data from 72,522 male and female athletes in high schools across six US states. Their results were published in "Higher rates of concussion following COVID-19 infection in high school athletes" in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The article indicates that the rate of concussions during the first 60 days of returning from a Covid infection was more than three times higher than for those who had not had Covid.

The authors speculate on reasons why the concussion rate was higher, but are not sure of the cause. "This may be related to ongoing COVID-19 sequelae or deconditioning related to reduced training and competition load during the illness and when returning to sport. Further research is needed to understand the association of recent COVID-19 infection and concussion in order to inform preventive strategies."

The findings seem to indicate that bicycle riders should be particularly careful to avoid crashes after Covid infections. That starts with basic attention to careful riding practices. For helmet selection a rider emerging from a Covid infection might look to the top tier of helmets rated by the Virginia Tech Star system testing, although the specific test protocol was developed before the COVID-19 epidemic began. Further research may establish what is causing the increased concussion rate, and whether or not a change in helmet protection is relevant.