A new study of data on head injuries from skiing and snowboarding has found that the increasing use of helmets by participants has reduced the overall number of head injuries, but has not reduced serious injuries leading to traumatic brain injury or death.
The new study by the Centre de recherche de l’HSCM in Montréal and published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine also found that participants with low skill levels, those younger than 16 and over 50 years, and snowboarders, were at higher risk of head injury.
The report also found that skiers and snowboarders that wear helmets were less likely to suffer injuries to other parts of their body than non-helmet wearers. This contradicts a theory held by many skiers that those wearing helmets take greater risks because they feel more safe with a helmet on.
“The reduced risk of non-head injury in helmet wearers was surprising because the helmet does not protect other parts of the body,” commented Dr Nicolas Bailly, PhD, of the Laboratoire de recherche en imagerie et orthopédie in Montréal who led the study, adding, “This result suggests that helmet users take less risk than those who do not use helmets. This contradicts the ‘risk compensation theory,’ which implies that the perception of being protected by the helmet might lead people to take more risks.”
The study was based on data from 1,425 participants with traumatic brain injuries and 1,386 with other head injuries were compared with two sets of controls and another with 2,145 participants without injury and 40,288 with an injury to another part of the body.