ROSEMONT, Ill. - According to an article in today’s New York Times entitled “Wear a Helmet When Hitting the Slopes,” 40 percent of skiers and snowboarders avoid helmets. But why is this?
The article states, “studies have concluded that helmets reduce the risk of a serious head injury by as much as 60 percent. But a surprising number of safety experts and snow sports enthusiasts remain unconvinced that helmets reduce overall injury risk.”
The article went on to explain the findings from a 2009 survey of ski patrollersfrom across the country. According to the article, the survey found that “77 percent did not wear helmets because they worried that the headgear could reduce their peripheral vision, hearing and response times, making them slower and clumsier. In addition, many worried that if they wore helmets, less-adept skiers and snowboarders might do likewise, feel invulnerable and engage in riskier behavior on the slopes.” However, a 2011 study proved otherwise with results showing that helmets did not obstruct peripheral vision and reaction times.
The AAOS recommends helmet use for individuals of all ages participating in sledding, skiing, snowboarding and all other winter sports. The purpose of the helmet is to partially absorb the force and dissipate the energy of blunt trauma in an effort to protect the head. While helmets do not decrease the risk of injury, they can decrease the severity. Click here for the Academy’s position statement on winter sports and helmet use.
According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), during the last decade, there were about 40 deaths per year as a result from downhill skiing/snowboarding accidents in the United States. Of those fatalities, only eight people (20 percent) involved were reported to be wearing helmets at the time of injury.
Click here to read additional winter sports safety tips from our winter sports safety release.
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