Recent blog posts on BrainandSpinalCord.org of snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s traumatic brain injury and early recovery process reported that Kevin was wearing a helmet when he hit his head above his eye on an icy-halfpipe while training. Although it is still possible to endure a head injury while wearing a helmet, a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that wearing a helmet reduces a skier or snowboarder’s risk of brain injury by about 35 percent. A EurekAlert article noted further that about 2 to 5 out of every 10 head injuries that occur to helmet uses could be prevented.
Canadian scientists conducted the study by analyzing data from 46,564 people collected in 12 helmet studies around the world. The study abstract said, ‘We searched electronic databases, conference proceedings and reference lists using a combination of the key words ‘head injury or head trauma,’ ‘helmet’ and ‘skiing or snowboarding.’ What they found was that ‘skiers and snowboarders with a helmet were significantly less likely than those without a helmet to have a head injury.’ Further, the abstract concluded that helmets to not increase the risk of neck injury, as previously thought by some researchers.
One researcher involved in the study, Brent Hagel, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Calgary, told the Globe and Mail that the ‘benefits of wearing a helmet are probably underestimated,’ due to the lack of data on helmet make, model, and quality. The meta-analysis consisted of studies from North America, Asia, and Europe.
Canada currently has no law that requires helmets to be worn on ski slopes. They do, however, have a law requiring the use of helmets in hockey. The Globe and Mail article reported that many ski resorts in Canada do not require their employees to wear helmets. Previous articles in our blog noted that helmets are on the rise among U.S. skiers and that many popular resorts in the U.S. are beginning to require their employees to wear helmets on the job.
Barnhardt, Kim. (February 1, 2010) ‘Helmets reduce the risk of head injuries among skiers and snowboarders by 35 percent.’ Retrieved on February 2, 2010 from the EurekAlert Web site: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/cmaj-hrt012710.php
Picard, Andre. (February 2, 2010) ‘Helmets on the slopes cut head injury risk.’ Retrieved on February 2, 2010 from The Globe And Mail Web site:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/helmets-on-the-slopes-cut-hea…
Russell, Kelly, et al. (February 1, 2010) ‘The effect of helmets on the risk of head and neck injuries among skiers and snowboarders: a meta-analysis.’ Retrieved on February 2, 2010 from the Canadian Medical Association Web site:http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/abstract/cmaj.091080v1