Skiing and Helmets Are a good Mix

Natasha Richardson may have died as a result of a blow to her head on a beginner ski slope. So did Boo Sung “James” Moon, 13, in Barrie, Ontario this past February. They were not wearing helmets. Helmets don’t always save lives but they protect.
When young Moon died there were renewed calls for legislation that would require children to wear helmets while skiing. Premier Dalton McGuinty dismissed the cries.

Studies have shown that head injuries are the leading cause of death on ski slopes. A study by the British Medical Association in 2003 found that in the United States the availability of helmet rentals varied by the ski area size. In the South and Midwest helmets were often not part of ski rentals.

Once neuronal damage once it has occurred there is very little that can be done to reverse the outcomes. The only way to reduce the numbers of ski accident TBI (traumatic brain injury) is to protect the head.

The one factor though on protection of the head during a skiing accident is the speed that the skier is going at the time of the head is hit. Helmets are likely to prevent only those head injuries sustained as a result of an indirect or low speed direct blow to the head.

There has been an increase though on US slopes for head protection. According to the National Ski Areas Association in the past five years more skiers are using helmets. While only 32 percent of those aged 18-24 will don a helmet more than 70 percent of children under 9 are hitting the slopes with head gear. The highest number of helmet wearers are in the West and Northeast.

Another study by the Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia suggests that n skiers and snowboarders under 13 years of age, helmet use does not increase the incidence of cervical spine injury and does reduce the incidence of head injury requiring investigation and/or treatment. That study was completed in 1998-1999.

The chances of a helmet protecting you in a ski accident are better odds than going without. Your brain just may thank you.


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