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Interesting Article on Tramatic Brain Injuries and the Use of Ski Helmets

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Just for the record, I wear a helmet, my wife wears a helmet and my adult kids wear a helmet while skiing.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/sports/on-slopes-rise-in-helmet-use-but-no-decline-in-brain-injuries.html?_r=0

 

The fact that Michael Schumacher was wearing a helmet when he sustained a life-threatening head injury while skiing in France on Sunday probably did not come as a surprise to experts who have charted the increasing presence of helmets on slopes and halfpipes in recent years. The fact that the helmet did not prevent Schumacher’s injury probably did not surprise them, either.

 

Schumacher’s injury also focused attention on an unsettling trend. Although skiers and snowboarders in the United States are wearing helmets more than ever — 70 percent of all participants, nearly triple the number from 2003 — there has been no reduction in the number of snow-sports-related fatalities or brain injuries in the country, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

Experts ascribe that seemingly implausible correlation to the inability of helmets to prevent serious head injuries like Schumacher’s and to the fact that more skiers and snowboarders are engaging in risky behaviors: skiing faster, jumping higher and going out of bounds.

 

>snip<

 

“There’s a push toward faster, higher, pushing the limits being the norm, not the exception,” said Nina Winans, a sports medicine physician at Tahoe Forest MultiSpecialty Clinics in Truckee, Calif. “So, all of those factors — terrain parks, jumping cliffs and opening terrain that maybe wasn’t open in the past — play into some of these statistics with injuries.”

 

The population most susceptible to that culture is the one that is dying, statistics show. Seventy percent of snow-sports fatalities involve men in their late teens to late 30s, according to the ski area association. That is the same population that most often engages in high-risk behaviors like driving fast. Head injuries remain the leading cause of deaths in skiing and snowboarding, Shealy said, with about 30 in the United States each year.

 

“The helmet does a very good job at protecting against skull lacerations and skull fractures, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect on concussions or T.B.I.’s,” Shealy said, referring to traumatic brain injuries. “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.”

post #2 of 11

Yep, a helmet only provides a small margin of protection.  Most you can hope for is that you end up with a reduction in the magnitude of a head injury.  I do wear one thinking it can't be worse than not wearing one.  And it's warmer than a hat. 

post #3 of 11

post #4 of 11

i didn't see anything inherently wrong with the article, but yea, pretty much same points that have been tossed around to those that have joined in to watch a ski helment thread.

 

I suppose the article is fine to explain the current to those that didn't know already, and only briefly suggests the disputed logic that helmets actually encourage bad behavior and so they are detrimental and their use should be discouraged.  The "seatbelts cause more injuries then they prevent" theory.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by core2 View Post
 

 

I understand your knee-jerk reaction. But, if you would take time to read the article you will discover this is not about whether or not one should wear a helmet and if it makes a difference. It is about the fact that if you are going to ski extreme and crash a helmet isn't gonna save your ass. Sure, wearing one is helpful, but if you hit a tree or rock at 60 MPH (100KPH)  you will be injured regardless.

 

With that said the average guy or gal having a crash at 30 MPH (50KPH) the helmet is going to save one's brains.

 

This thread is not a repeat of the last 50 helmet or not threads. It give fresh perspective.

 

The point is: if you are going to push the limits a helmet may not save your brain from traumatic injury. For the average or expert skier, who plans to be reasonable a helmet is a real benefit. As for me, a helmet is warmer than a beanie and IMO it looks better. Issue settled. :cool

post #6 of 11

Hmm, i dunno, i think it's the same perspective, at perhaps it's just because that was my perspective already.

 

The helmet threads often get taken over near the end by debating minor points, which maybe clouds that the majority of the basic points are somewhat agreed upon or settled.

post #7 of 11
I shared my personal experience in the Schumacher thread. The Tl/Dr version is that a concussion/TBI is generally preferable to a skull fracture. The part this piece seems to be leaving out is how many concussion victims would have far more serious injuries without the helmet.

I also don't believe that helmets lead people to feel safe and thus hit harder stuff. People are doing that anyways.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr5150 View Post

I understand your knee-jerk reaction. But, if you would take time to read the article you will discover this is not about whether or not one should wear a helmet and if it makes a difference. It is about the fact that if you are going to ski extreme and crash a helmet isn't gonna save your ass. Sure, wearing one is helpful, but if you hit a tree or rock at 60 MPH (100KPH)  you will be injured regardless.

With that said the average guy or gal having a crash at 30 MPH (50KPH) the helmet is going to save one's brains.

This thread is not a repeat of the last 50 helmet or not threads. It give fresh perspective.

The point is: if you are going to push the limits a helmet may not save your brain from traumatic injury. For the average or expert skier, who plans to be reasonable a helmet is a real benefit. As for me, a helmet is warmer than a beanie and IMO it looks better. Issue settled. cool.gif


A helmet is not going to save anyone's butt hitting a tree straight on at 30mph+. What it might do is prevent brain damage from those numerous smaller knocks all skiers take throughout the years, the kind of knocks that create so many problems for fighters, football players, and many others later on in life.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by quant2325 View Post


A helmet is not going to save anyone's butt hitting a tree straight on at 30mph+. What it might do is prevent brain damage from those numerous smaller knocks all skiers take throughout the years, the kind of knocks that create so many problems for fighters, football players, and many others later on in life.

 

So would you rather be wearing the helmet or a backwards ballcap when YOU slam a tree at 30 mph?  I agree impacts at that speed can be more than what 1" of polystyrene can absorb and leave the person uninjured, but helmets also help convert some of those 30 mph skull fractures/deaths to "merely" concussion/TBI.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

 

So would you rather be wearing the helmet or a backwards ballcap when YOU slam a tree at 30 mph?  I agree impacts at that speed can be more than what 1" of polystyrene can absorb and leave the person uninjured, but helmets also help convert some of those 30 mph skull fractures/deaths to "merely" concussion/TBI.


Come on, anachronism, I wear a helmet and wouldn't think of skiing w/o one.  I am just making a point that helmets can only do so much, and that some of what they do cannot be immediately measured. I think it is obvious that Scott McCartney in his DH fall would be dead if he weren't wearing a helmet:

 

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr5150 View Post

I understand your knee-jerk reaction. But, if you would take time to read the article you will discover this is not about whether or not one should wear a helmet and if it makes a difference. It is about the fact that if you are going to ski extreme and crash a helmet isn't gonna save your ass. Sure, wearing one is helpful, but if you hit a tree or rock at 60 MPH (100KPH)  you will be injured regardless.

With that said the average guy or gal having a crash at 30 MPH (50KPH) the helmet is going to save one's brains.

This thread is not a repeat of the last 50 helmet or not threads. It give fresh perspective.

The point is: if you are going to push the limits a helmet may not save your brain from traumatic injury. For the average or expert skier, who plans to be reasonable a helmet is a real benefit. As for me, a helmet is warmer than a beanie and IMO it looks better. Issue settled. cool.gif

No, it won't if you hit an inanimate object head on. POC conceded this with their MIPS technology.

(Yes, I wore a helmet the past two days. Hard snow, weekend crowds, and teaching... We're not required to wear a helmet for work, but there was a lot of exposed hard stuff with high friction coefficients.smile.gif )
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