Heading to the slopes

February 3, 2010

The majority of skiers and snowboarders are probably very aware that wearing a helmet is an important safety precaution, but a new study shows just how essential the helmet really is. Research out of the University of Calgary has found that wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding was associated with a 35 percent decrease in the risk of head injuries.  Wearing a helmet may also prevent between two and five out of every ten head injuries.

This meta-analysis included twelve studies from Europe, Asia and the United States. MedPage Today reports that in all, the studies included 9,829 participants who were wearing helmets and 36,735 who were not. It has previously been thought that helmets could increase the risk of neck injury; however, this study did not find a link between the two. According to WebMD, this holds true for children as well.

There are some limitations to this study (visit MedPage Today to see the list), perhaps the biggest being that the researchers were not able to examine the quality or fit of the helmets. The researchers say, “Methodologically rigorous research is required to determine which types of helmets provide the best protection”.

Time’s Wellness Blog provides another interesting insight:

“…the researchers emphasized that helmets are not a foolproof way to prevent injury. As they point out, in fact, if wearers develop a false sense of security about their safety, helmets could even prompt more reckless behavior. Previous study has yielded mixed results—some research indicates that helmet-wearers do tend to be more aggressive, and while other investigations found that helmets encouraged more caution.”

This study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.


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