Helmets Reduce the Risk of Head Injury for Skiers and Snowboarders
Approximately 120,000 people in North America suffer head injuries while skiing or snowboarding each year.
Recent studies have shown that wearing helmets help reduce the risk of head injuries by up to 60 percent. Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and serious injury for skiers and snowboarders.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published results of a study indicating that helmets reduce the risk of head injury among skiers and snowboarders in Canada by 35 percent with no evidence of an increased risk of neck injury. Head injuries account for up to 19 percent of the injuries in these sports while neck injuries account for 4 percent of such injuries.
Helmet use is increasing but is still not universal by skiers and snowboarders across the board. A study conducted in the western United States and in Canada in 2003 showed that only slightly over 12 percent of skiers and snowboarders were wearing helmets. A similar study conducted in New York indicated that only 42 percent of children wear helmets.
Studies have also been conducted to determine the difference in the severity of head injuries when comparing those wearing helmets to those not wearing helmets. Researchers in one study analyzed head injury patterns from CT scans that were sustained by helmeted verses non-helmeted skiers and snowboarders under the age of 21. The data was retrieved from two Level 1 trauma centers in New England between 2003-2009. Fifty-seven children under the age of 21 were studied.
Here are some of the results:
- 19 (33.3%) wore helmets
- 38 (66.7%) wore no helmet
- 30.8% of the skiers wore helmets
- 35.5% of the snowboarders wore helmets
- 5.2% of the helmeted patients suffered skull fractures
- 36.8 of the "non-helmeted" patients suffered skull fractures.
Promoting Helmet Use
Doctors are becoming huge advocates for the use of helmets in skiing and snowboarding because they see the first-hand results of failing to wear a helmet. Physicians are encouraging everyone to do their part in trying to make the slopes safer by advocating helmet use.
There is still a bit of a social stigma associated with the use of helmets. Despite all of the safety data being released, many still feel that they are not part of the ski culture or not fashionable. Far too many skiers and snowboarders still do not view helmets as a necessary piece of equipment for the sport.
Resorts have recognized the potential hazard and liability risk and are jumping on board by including helmets in their child and youth ski and snowboard rental packages. They also are participating in National Ski Safety weeks and offering discounts on helmets to kids. The ski resorts can benefit from the promotion in a couple of ways. They keep their customers safe, and their insurance premiums may be reduced.
Helmet Use Still Needs to Increase
Geographical ski data on head injuries:
- Utah - 88.9% of fatal injuries attributed to head injuries
- Vermont - 87.5% of fatal injuries attributed to head injuries
- Switzerland - 80% of fatal injuries attributed to head injuries
- Alberta - 80% of fatal injuries attributed to head injuries
There is widespread agreement between these studies that shows that there is a reduction in the occurrence of head injuries with an increase in the number who wear helmets. This is a big reason why wearing a helmet can no longer be a fashion decision but needs to be a decision about common sense and safety. While ski culture is on the brink of a change in their attitude toward helmets, real progress in reducing the number of head injuries on the slopes will mean everyone will need to jump onboard this culture shift: schools, parents, kids, and resorts alike.
If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has suffered wrongful death in a skiing or snowboarding accident, contact Montlick and Associates for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights. Our experienced personal injury attorneys work hard for our clients to get them the compensation they deserve as part of our continuing mission to be known as Georgia’s top personal injury accident law firm.
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