In the US, the percentage of bikers over the age of 50 has more than doubled from just over 1 in 10 in 1990 to 1 in 4 in 2003, while the average age of those involved in a motorbike crash has been steadily creeping up, with rates of injury among the over 65s soaring 145% between 2000 and 2006.
According to a report in Medical News Today, based on Government statistics of serious motor cycle collisions requiring a visit to emergency care between 2001 and 2008, around 1.5 million motor bike crashes involving adults aged 20 and above required treatment in US emergency care departments.
Trends in injury type and frequency were analysed by age band: to see if there were any discernible differences.
Injury rates for three age groups (20 to 39 – 921,229 incidents; 40 to 59 – 466, 125; 60+ – 65,660) increased between 2001 and 2008, but the greatest rate of increase was among those aged 60+, among whom biking injuries rose 247%. Bikers in this age band were also three times as likely to be admitted to hospital after a crash as were those in their 20s and 30s.
Both older and middle aged bikers were also significantly more likely to be seriously injured than young bikers, with older bikers 2.5 times as likely to sustain serious injuries and middle aged bikers 66% more likely to do so.
Dwindling bone strength, changes in body fat distribution, and decreasing elasticity in the chest wall as well as underlying illnesses may explain the greater severity of injuries among older adults. Fractures and dislocations were the most common type of injury across all age groups. But older and middle aged bikers were significantly more likely to have sustained this type of injury than younger bikers, particularly around the chest and rib cage.