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Neuroscience For Kids

Helmets for Winter Sports
ski December 5, 2007

If you are heading up to the slopes for some skiing or snowboarding, don't forget your helmet! It could prevent a serious brain injury.

ski Researchers in Canada reviewed the findings from 24 articles published between 1990 and 2004 that studied skiing and snowboarding injuries. They found that the number of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI) is increasing. Head injuries account for 3-15% of all injuries and spinal cord injuries account for 2-4% of all injuries suffered by snowboarders and skiers. Also, snowboarders were more likely to injure themselves than skiers.

ski The researchers suggest that the increase in TBI and SCI may be due to new developments in equipment and terrain found on the slopes. For example, some ski/snowboard parks have special areas for jumps or acrobatic moves. Attempts to use these features, especially by inexperienced skiers and snowboarders, may result in more falls or collisions.

ski In 1999, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that helmets worn by skiers and snowboarders under 15 years of age could prevent or reduce the severity of 53% of the head injuries. Helmets worn by adults would prevent or reduce the severity of 44% of the head injuries. The devastating, long-term consequences of a brain or spinal cord injury make it clear that helmets are a good idea!

ski Ski/Snowboard Safety

  1. Slow down!
  2. Ski and snowboard under control!
  3. Ski area operators should pad lift towers, trees and other objects on the slopes.
  4. Ski area operators should label all trails carefully so inexperienced skiers and snowboarders stay off steep terrain.
  5. "WEAR A HELMET" - one that fits properly


Copyright © 1996-2007, Eric H. Chudler, University of Washington