Helmets must be part of skiing and snowboarding culture, doctors urge

February 17, 2010

TORONTO, On - February 17, 2010 - While the world's best skiers and snowboarders at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games compete with helmets on, many other skiers and snowboarders are choosing to forego this important piece of safety equipment. In fact, many skiers and snowboarders place fashion before safety, according to a commentary by a St. Michael's Hospital neurosurgeon published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today.

The commentary calls for skiers to shun the cultural stigma or fashion faux pas associated with wearing helmets to encourage helmet use as a routine part of the ski and snowboard culture.

Head injuries in these two alpine sports are the most frequent cause of hospital admission and death. Research shows that about 120,000 people in North America suffer head injuries while skiing or snowboarding each year. Recent studies have shown that helmets help reduce the risk of head injuries by up to 60 percent.

"Despite compelling evidence that shows wearing a helmet significantly reduces the chance of head and brain injury, there are still those who argue that helmets are not fashionable or part of the ski culture," explains Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital. "We have established the safety benefits but now we must find ways to integrate helmets so it becomes another piece of standard equipment for people on the slopes. It is time for everyone who has a stake in skiing and snowboarding to do their part to make the slopes safer."

According to the authors, a shift in attitude toward helmet use is necessary to quash cultural stigmas. They say that change has already begun. For example, during the 2009 National Ski Safety Week, ski areas in California, Colorado and Washington offered discounts on helmets through the Lid for Kids safety awareness program. Other resorts are including a helmet with their child and youth ski and snowboard rental packages.

"Resorts have two reasons for promoting helmets - one, it keeps their customers safer and two, they are also seeing a discount in their insurance premiums when the slopes are safer places," says Dr. Cusimano. "Role modeling can also have a powerful effect on what people sense as normal. Ski patrollers and instructors understand that helmets lessen the risk of traumatic brain injury and view themselves as role models for the public; however, most do not wear helmets regularly."

The authors recommend: "We are on the brink of changing the culture in skiing and snowboarding towards helmets," he says. "What we need is action by various stakeholders so wearing a helmet no longer becomes a fashion decision but rather common sense. We need action from national organizations, to ski resorts and schools, to parents and kids to make this culture shift. At that point, we will make real progress in reducing the number of head injuries on the slopes."
-end-
About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who walk through its doors. The Hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research at St. Michael's Hospital is recognized and put into practice around the world. Founded in 1892, the Hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

St. Michael's Hospital

Related Brain Injury Articles from Brightsurf:

Using machine learning to predict pediatric brain injury
When newborn babies or children with heart or lung distress are struggling to survive, doctors often turn to a form of life support that uses artificial lungs.

A memory game could help us understand brain injury
A Boston University team created a memory game for mice in order to examine the function of two different brain areas that process information about the sensation of touch and the memory of previous events.

Clear signs of brain injury with severe COVID-19
Certain patients who receive hospital care for coronavirus infection (COVID-19) exhibit clinical and neurochemical signs of brain injury, a University of Gothenburg study shows.

Reducing dangerous swelling in traumatic brain injury
After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the most harmful damage is caused by secondary swelling of the brain compressed inside the skull.

Can brain injury from boxing, MMA be measured?
For boxers and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, is there a safe level of exposure to head trauma?

Study: Brain injury common in domestic violence
Domestic violence survivors commonly suffer repeated blows to the head and strangulation, trauma that has lasting effects that should be widely recognized by advocates, health care providers, law enforcement and others who are in a position to help, according to the authors of a new study.

Which car crashes cause traumatic brain injury?
Motor vehicle crashes are one of the most common causes of TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths.

Landmark study reveals no benefit to costly and risky brain cooling after brain injury
A landmark study, led by Monash University researchers, has definitively found that the practice of cooling the body and brain in patients who have recently received a severe traumatic brain injury, has no impact on the patient's long-term outcome.

Every cell has a story to tell in brain injury
Traumatic head injury can have widespread effects in the brain, but now scientists can look in real time at how head injury affects thousands of individual cells and genes simultaneously in mice.

Traumatic brain injury recovery via petri dish
Researchers in the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center have succeeded in reproducing the effects of traumatic brain injury and stimulating recovery in neuron cells grown in a petri dish.

Read More: Brain Injury News and Brain Injury Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.