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Yes and no. According to the National Ski Areas Association, skiers and snowboarders are wearing helmets more than ever before, with over 70 percent of vacationers wearing headgear on the slopes. But despite the safety trend, the number of snow-sports-related traumatic brain injuries is steadily on the rise.
The good news is that helmet use reduce the incidence of less serious head injuries, such as scalp lacerations or minor abrasions. However, evidence has shown that helmets do not prevent more serious injuries, such as concussions, skull fractures, closed head injuries, or head injury deaths.
Jasper Shealy, a professor emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology, says there are many reasons that ski helmets cannot protect against traumatic brain injuries. After studying snow-sports-related injuries at a resort in Vermont for over 30 years, Shealy finds that serious skiing head injuries usually involve a rotational component to the head that cannot be combated by today’s helmets. Another factor is the speed at which injuries can typically occur.
“Our guess is that this is due to the fact that those injuries are occurring at such a high magnitude of energy that they overwhelm what a helmet can do for you,” Shealy says.
A growing problem for the younger generation of skiers is the popularity of high-risk sports and daredevil behavior. Many resorts have encouraged the trend by building bigger features in their parks and allowing access to more extreme terrain. Also, skiing and snowboarding equipment has seen many technological advances that allow the participant to go faster, do tricks, and travel through icy or rocky slopes.
While New Jersey does require helmet use while skiing for children, what may be more effective is warning your family about the dangers of taking risks on the slopes. If someone you love has suffered a brain injury on a skiing vacation, call Gray and White today at 888-450-4456 to find out how we can help.