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A Thanks & A Helmet Story

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Sincere thanks to the many of you who so generously offered skiing tips and responded to my questions about skis, bindings, and lessons. I finally was able to try out my new equipment and was happy with the results. I just have to tweak the alignment some next time. Your ideas were very helpful.

There was a downside to my ski trip, although all's well that ends well. I joined a group lesson, and, as the number two student in the line-up after the instructor, skiied down a relatively busy, familiar, intermediate slope faster than I ordinarily would have, in order to keep up with the pace that had been set. As I approached the top of the next trail where we were to meet, I vaguely I remember someone crashing into me and my saying to him, "Why don't you look where you're going." The next thing I can remember is being escorted into the ski patrol hut at the top of the mountain. I am completely amnestic for the intervening 15-30 (?) minutes during which I apparently lost consciousness, regained consciousness, got up with assistance, skiied down the rest of the run to the bottom of the lift, and rode the lift back up to the top. Talk about muscle memory.

From the ski patrol hut I was taken down on a sled to the base clinic, then to the local hospital where I stayed overnight because of a concussion and a small intracranial bleed. Had I not been wearing a helmet (which now has a small dent and which I am replacing), I might now be dead or a turnip.

Lessons learned:
* Helmets are good.
* Avoid group lessons on busy days on busy hills.
* Cell phones or walkie-talkies can't reunite a family if only one member is carrying one.
* CT scans of the head are essential for someone who loses consciousness as a result of a blow to the head.
post #2 of 22
When I crashed in January, one of my Metron B5 hit the back of my helmet in the tumble. These skis weight 8.5 pounds each. Without a helmet, this could have been nasty.
post #3 of 22
I'd say 60% of the "adult" skiers I see in Tahoe wear helmets, which is a big change form ever 2-3 yrs ago

It's now becoming the "in" or cool thing to prove that you are a serious skier, and that's a good trend

I fell back and hit my head a few years ago and have worn a helmet ever since

with a Giro None.9, it's so light you hardly know you're wearing one anyway

no excuse NOT to wear one, you're gong faster than you are in a car without seatbelts and without the metal around you

and it's always the other idiot who runs into you that causes the damage

p.s. and especially make sure your kids wear them! and keep them on!
post #4 of 22
I finally started wearing a helmet this year after many, many years of skiing without one. I just couldn't think of a good excuse not to wear one. Coincidentally, I got a Giro 9 MX and hardly noticed it was on. I'll never ski without one again.
post #5 of 22
Sorry to hear about such a bad accident, I hope you are going to be ok. Great that you stumbled back on to the lift. I guess eveyone who gets on a ski lift is a little wacked, naturally you got back on when not fully in control of your reasoning! Keep skiing, it's dangerous but accidents as serious as yours are rare.
post #6 of 22

whtmt

Five years ago while biking I went off the side of the road and lost it. Went down on my left shoulder and then hit my head so hard on the pavement I broke the helmet in three places. I was only going 22 mph, but it was enough to do real damage. If I hadn't been wearing a helmet I probably wouldn't be writing this response to you now. I walked away and actually rode back home 3-miles away before my wife drove me to the ER.

I wear a helmet for all sports where a collision might occur. I started with a nice full Brikko, but found an adjustable by Giro last season for my granddaughter. It was light as a feather, so I bought a Giro Fuse with adjustable vents. It's light and comfortable.

Best of luck in your recovery and skiing progress. Happy Trails.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
post #7 of 22
Glad to hear your ok , concussions or any head trauma are often more impacting than people think . By any chance did the other party stick around or did they rabbit?
post #8 of 22
Ella, I'm really glad you made this post and wish you a fast recovery.

About ten years ago a friend and I ventured OB at Alpine Meadows. Unfortunately, he made it down and I didn't. I had some of the same fuzy memories but in short I hit a tree. Fortunately, we were smart enough to have an area where we would meet if we got separated. Forty-five minutes later he got a couple of ski patrol guys went up looking for me. Sure enough I was laid out in a some red snow. They took me down the mountain and to the local hospital where I receive 30+ stiches. I didn't get a CT scan, I'm guessing the technology was there yet. Anyway, I just started skiing again this year, 10 years since my accident and as idiotic as this may sound I am now going out to get a helmet.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks, all, for the good wishes and the other helmet testimonials.

Telerod - I hope that serious accidents are rare. I admit I'm a bit spooked about going back on the mountain, but I don't want to "waste" the new equipment I just bought or deny myself the fun of skiing.

This is the fourth time over the years that I've been hit from behind. (And I don't get out that often.) #1 by a very young child on skis who lacked control; #2 by a snowboarder, who, lacking control, plowed straight into me (looking straight at me) taking me for a ride on top of his board for several yards from the place I had been standing, clearly visible, at the side of the top of a trail; #3 by a speeding snowboarder while I was skiing highly predictable, medium radius turns towards the side of a wide trail (my husband tried to catch him but couldn't); and #4 this time by a skiier who left a rather sharp ding in the back of my helmet (a pole?). This last incident is the only one that scares me. (Leeroy, reportedly the guy did stop, then skiied on after I got up. I wouldn't know.)

Unfortunately, if I want to ski at all, I can't avoid weekends, so I'm interested in whatever other defensive skiing measures folks can recommend. I ski in control, look for emptier trails or wait for them to become emptier before entering, look and listen to what's going on around me, stop when tired or when conditions get bad, etc. I've even called resorts to find out how many people they were expecting on the mountain on a given day after finding the lift lines ridiculously crowded on previous days (2 hours to get to the first run down!)

I'm seriously thinking I should get some day-glo clothes and blinking lights. Do bright colors help?

Leadfoot, I'm very glad you're going to get a helmet. Make sure it's the right shape (and size) for you. The thread linked below has Consumer Reports rankings. The second link talks about shapes and sizes. My replacement Giro 9 just arrived.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=22551

http://www.skihelmets.com/size_fit.asp
post #10 of 22
stop skiing groomers and your chance of being hit probably drops by 90%
post #11 of 22
Yeah, I shouldn't have said it is dangerous to ski, you are already painfully aware of that. Get back on that lift just like you did when you weren't thinking straight. Driving your car or taking a shower may be more dangerous than skiing.

Solutions? A lot of parents ski behind their child , staying directly uphill from kid, turning in synch to block sliders who have mastered balancing but not turning. Maybe your husband can ride shotgun like this for a while until you have regained your confidence.

Bright clothes might help especially a safety orange vest like blind skiers use (and some cyclists). Instead of "Caution! Blind Skier", you could put "Caution! Skier" or "Caution! Skier without eyes in back of head"

After reading so much about skiers getting hit from behind, I have tried to change my orientation when I'm stopped for a breath (often). Naturally you look downhill when stopped, planning your line, but I'm trying (when I remember) to look uphill when I'm stopped. Just making eye contact with your would be assailant might discourage contact and you can maybe jump out of the way if you see incoming turkeys flying your way. If you can't get out of the way, point the sharp end of both poles directly at the head of the beast. If you can't jump out of the way just jump up. You are much less likely to damage knees if you are in the air when he contacts you. Your edges might cut him up a bit if you do it right. It's not fair that the assailant rarely is injured and the victim often is. If you see him coming give him some pole tips and edges to help him rethink his approach to skiing.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the laughs, Telerod. Now you've got me thinking - psychic energy bubble, electric force-field, battery-operated porcupine suit, mannequin husband to the rear ...hmm
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ella
Thanks for the laughs, Telerod. Now you've got me thinking - psychic energy bubble, electric force-field, battery-operated porcupine suit, mannequin husband to the rear ...hmm
I often now stop downhill from a large tree or lift tower, even stepping slightly off the trail to get behind one.

I actually am beginning to believe that one of the issues is not that you aren't being seen, but that you are! Think about it: we go where we're looking. In all likelihood, the people who hit you did so because they were watching you (for one reason or another). Therefore, I'm not sure I'd want to encourage you to wear even more obvious clothing.

Ski Big Sky. There's no one there!
post #14 of 22
Helmets rule! Boeri's got a nice carbon composite this year, with an internal head hugging type harness. Real light and comfy, I may grab one end of season @ 40% off.

The old Shorty Air has taken some serious lumps, mostly from safety bars, and in one case a low flying chair! That one left me dazed as it was, no lid woulda necessitated a hospital trip.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
I often now stop downhill from a large tree or lift tower, even stepping slightly off the trail to get behind one.

I actually am beginning to believe that one of the issues is not that you aren't being seen, but that you are! Think about it: we go where we're looking. In all likelihood, the people who hit you did so because they were watching you (for one reason or another). Therefore, I'm not sure I'd want to encourage you to wear even more obvious clothing.

Ski Big Sky. There's no one there!
I believe the turn for this is called target fixation. I've seen it used to describe motorcycle accidents where one rider goes off the road in a curve and the riders behind follow him right off. Basically, they instinctively watch the accident unfolding, and due to their attention being focussed, follow it.
post #16 of 22
(Ella - good to hear you're okay.)

I've been skiing with a helmet the last couple of years (except this year - no snow in the PNW, hence no skiing), and have found a couple of benefits from it:

* On both cold days and warm days, my head always seems to be at perfect temperature. The helmet has proven to be really comfortable.

* A year ago at a ski resort, I slipped on some ice in the parking lot and fell backwards, hitting the back of my head on the pavement. Fortunately, I was wearing my helmet and had only a moderate headache for the rest of the day.
post #17 of 22
I've had similar experiences with being hit from behind. Once, one a steep groomer a skier fell at the top and slid all the way down the hill, right at me. I was able to avoid a collision with him by hearing that something was wrong above me, looking, and leaping out of the way.

I have found that my best way to avoid getting hit by out of control people is to listen to what is happening behind me. Usually, there is a sound of erratic skidding before an accident happens that alerts me someone above doesn't quite have it all together. When I hear this, I try to get out of the way. Having a helmet with a soft area over the ears is essential to practice this form of defensive skiing, or you can't hear well enough. I guess there is an added danger with that kind of helmet, but I think, in my experience, it has definitely been worth the trade off.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by nealric
stop skiing groomers and your chance of being hit probably drops by 90%
here here! Totally agree. Ever since I start going on the ungrommed blacks, I've never had anyone come close to hitting me. I now have the mind set that green's and blue's are FAR more dangerous than black's as long as you can handle the black diamonds...
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave86
A year ago at a ski resort, I slipped on some ice in the parking lot and fell backwards, hitting the back of my head on the pavement. Fortunately, I was wearing my helmet and had only a moderate headache for the rest of the day.
Good idea, your head is an excellent place to carry your helmet from car to hill and you never know when you might need it! I've been known to wear mine in the car on the way to the hill.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reisen
I believe the turn for this is called target fixation. I've seen it used to describe motorcycle accidents where one rider goes off the road in a curve and the riders behind follow him right off. Basically, they instinctively watch the accident unfolding, and due to their attention being focussed, follow it.
Maybe a red cape held to one side like a matador, at the last minute you raise it and the bull skier passes under, no harm. Ole!
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
One of my coping mechanisms is to do research. For those of you who like to read abstracts, here are some I found (may also be useful for insomnia sufferers):

Quote:
1: Epidemiology. 2004 May;15(3):279-86.

Injuries among skiers and snowboarders in Quebec.

Hagel BE, Goulet C, Platt RW, Pless IB. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, Montreal,Quebec, Canada.

BACKGROUND: Snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding are recognized as hazardous, but population-based injury rates or specific risk factors have been difficult to estimate as a result of a lack of complete data for both numerator and denominator. METHODS: We used data from 3 surveys to estimate the number of participants and annual number of outings in Quebec by age, sex, activity, and calendar year. Injuries reported by ski patrollers were used to estimate injury rates among skiers and snowboarders for the head and neck, trunk, upper extremity, and lower extremity. RESULTS: Head-neck and trunk injury rates increased over time from 1995-1996 to 1999-2000. There was a steady increase in the rate of injury with younger age for all body regions. The rate of head-neck injury was 50% higher in snowboarders than in skiers (adjusted rate ratio [ARR]= 1.5; 95% confidence interval = 1.3-1.8). Women and girls had a lower rate of head-neck injury (0.73; 0.62-0.87). Snowboarders were twice as likely as skiers to have injuries of the trunk (2.1; 1.7-2.6), and more than 3 times as likely to have injuries of the upper extremities (3.4; 2.9-4.1). Snowboarders had a lower rate of injury only of the lower extremities (0.79; 0.66-0.95). Snowboarder collision-related injury rates increased substantially over time. CONCLUSIONS:Except for lower extremity injuries, snowboarders have a higher rate of injuries than skiers. Furthermore, collision-related injury rates have increased over time for snowboarders. Targeted injury prevention strategies in this group seem justified.

2: Can J Public Health. 2003 Nov-Dec;94(6):458-62.

Trends in emergency department reported head and neck injuries among skiers and snowboarders.

Hagel BE, Pless B, Platt RW. Joint Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, Montreal,QC.

BACKGROUND: Reports from the U.S. suggest increases in the proportion and rate of head and neck injuries in skiers and snowboarders. It is important to determine if the same is true in Canada. METHODS: Skiers and snowboarders (< 18years) presenting to 16 selected emergency departments from 1991 to 1999 were assigned one body region of injury in the following order: i) brain and spine-spinal cord, ii) head and neck, iii) face, iv) other body region (i.e.,controls). Crude and adjusted (age, gender, helmet use and hospital admission) odds ratios indicating the proportion of head, brain, face, and neck injury relative to controls by calendar year were estimated. Injury rates were examined for 12 to 17 year olds over the last 4 years of the study. RESULTS: Compared with 1997-1999, there was a lower proportion of skier head injuries from 1991-93 (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.16; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 0.09-0.30) and from 1995-97 (AOR = 0.71; 95% CI = 0.49-1.04). The proportion of skier brain injuries was lower from 1993-95 (AOR = 0.69; 95% CI = 0.44-1.07) and from 1995-97 (AOR = 0.56; 95% CI: 0.35-0.91). In snowboarders, however, compared with 1997-99, there was evidence that although the proportion of head injuries was lower from 1991-93 (AOR = 0.19; 95% CI = 0.05-0.80), the opposite was true for facial injuries. For 12 to 17 year olds, skier brain and snowboarder head and neck injury rates increased from 1995-99. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that head and brain injuries in skiers and head and neck injuries in snowboarders may be increasing, particularly in adolescents.

3: Inj Prev. 2004 Apr;10(2):99-102.

Downhill skiing injury fatalities among children.

Xiang H, Stallones L, Smith GA. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Young skiers are at increased risk for injury, however, epidemiological data on skiing related fatal injuries among child skiers are scarce. This study aimed to provide information needed to develop injury control and prevention programs. DESIGN AND SETTING: Study subjects came from Colorado, USA and were identified using a death certificate based surveillance system. Fatal injuries were limited to events that occurred at established commercial ski resorts in Colorado, and subjects were classified as child skiers (0-17years) or adult skiers (> or =18 years). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Type and external cause, time, and week day of injury, gender and residency of the decedents. RESULTS: During the study period from 1980-2001, 149 fatal injuries associated with downhill skiing were identified; 21 (14.1%) occurred among child skiers aged < or =17 years. The age of the youngest decedent was 7 years. In females the proportion of fatal injuries among child skiers was nearly three times that of adults. Traumatic brain injuries were the leading cause of death (67% of all deaths) among children, while multiple internal injuries and traumatic brain injuries accounted for almost equal proportions of fatal injuries among adults. Collision was the leading external mechanism of fatal injuries, accounting for more than two thirds of fatal injuries in both child and adult skiers.CONCLUSIONS: Traumatic brain injury was the leading cause and collision was the leading external injury mechanism of fatal injuries associated with downhill skiing among child skiers. This underscores the importance of brain injury prevention strategies, including the use of ski helmets and prevention of collisions on ski slopes.

4: Injury. 2003 Dec;34(12):892-6.

Deaths associated with snow skiing in Colorado 1980-1981 to 2000-2001 ski seasons.

Xiang H, Stallones L. Health Statistics Section, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,Vital Statistics Unit, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246-1530,USA.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the trend and injury patterns of deaths associated with snow skiing in Colorado between 1980 and 2001. METHODS: Death certificates were searched electronically and reviewed manually. Total skier ticket sales were used to calculate death rates. Types of injuries and characteristics of those who died were investigated. RESULTS: A total of 274 skier deaths occurred between 1980 and 2001 in Colorado. Death rates ranged from 0.53 to 1.88 per million skier visits. The majority of deaths were among males (>81%). Ages ranged from 7 to 77 years with an average of 32 years. The greatest number of deaths associated with downhill skiing (76 deaths) occurred between 10:00 a.m.and 2:00 p.m. while the greatest number of deaths associated with cross-country skiing happened between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. About 65% of deaths associated with downhill skiing (133 cases) died of traumatic injuries resulting from collisions. CONCLUSIONS: A slight increase in the rate of ski-related deaths was observed. The role of collisions in ski-related deaths warrants further investigation to reduce the risk of this activity for all skiers. Further work is needed to determine the efficacy of helmet use to reduce the risk of head injuries in the skiing population.

5: Am J Emerg Med. 2003 Mar;21(2):95-9.

Serious winter sport injuries in children and adolescents requiring hospitalization.

Skokan EG, Junkins EP Jr, Kadish H. Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Universityof Utah School of Medicine, and the Intermountain Injury Control Research CenterSalt Lake City, Utah 84113, USA.

To describe the epidemiology of serious winter sports-related injuries resulting in hospitalization in children and adolescents, we prospectively collected and analyzed records of all winter sports-related injuries requiring hospitalization at our respective institutions from 1996 to 2000. We identified 101 patients with a mean age of 10.7 years, of whom 68% were male and 32% female. Skiers accounted for 71% and snowboarders 26% of injuries; 3% of injuries were snowmobile-or luge-related. Leading mechanisms of injury were ground level falls(50%), crashes into trees, (18%), and falls from ski lift (13%). Approximately 26% of the patients met criteria for trauma-team activation. Leading diagnoses were head injury (20%), femur fracture (18%), and concussion (11%). Five patients required admission to the intensive care unit. The median injury severity score (ISS) was 7; 8% of patients had an ISS score > 15. Abbreviated Injury Scale-1990 scores of > or = 3 were noted in 34% of the patients. We conclude that Injuries sustained through participation in winter sports may be severe, especially in the case of injuries involving the head. Injury-prevention strategies should focus on head injuries. Copyright 2003, Elsevier Science(USA). All rights reserved.)

6: Inj Prev. 2002 Dec;8(4):324-7.

Effect of helmet wear on the incidence of head/face and cervical spine injuries in young skiers and snowboarders.

Macnab AJ, Smith T, Gagnon FA, Macnab M. Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

PURPOSE: To evaluate whether helmets increase the incidence and/or severity of cervical spine injury; decrease the incidence of head injury; and/or increase the incidence of collisions (as a reflection of adverse effects on peripheral vision and/or auditory acuity) among young skiers and snowboarders. METHODS: During one ski season (1998-99) at a world class ski resort, all young skiers and snowboarders (<13 years of age) presenting with head, face, or neck injury to the one central medical facility at the base of the mountain were identified.On presentation to the clinic, subjects or their parents completed a questionnaire reviewing their use of helmets and circumstances surrounding the injury event. Physicians documented the site and severity of injury, investigations, and disposition of each patient. Concurrently, counts were made at the entry to the ski area of the number of skiers and snowboarders wearing helmets. RESULTS: Seventy children were evaluated at the clinic following ski/snowboard related head, neck, and face injuries. Fourteen did not require investigation or treatment. Of the remaining 56, 17 (30%) were wearing helmets and 39 (70%) were not. No serious neck injury occurred in either group. Using helmet-use data from the hill, among those under 13 years of age, failure to wear a helmet increased the risk of head, neck, or face injury (relative risk(RR) 2.24, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.23 to 4.12). When corrected for activity, RR was 1.77 and 95% CI 0.98 to 3.19. There was no significant difference in the odds ratio for collisions. The two groups may have been different in terms of various relevant characteristics not evaluated. No separate analysis of catastrophic injuries was possible. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that, in skiers and snowboarders under 13 years of age, helmet use does not increase the incidence of cervical spine injury and does reduce the incidence of head injury requiring investigation and/or treatment.

7: Semin Neurol. 2000;20(2):233-45.

Neurologic injuries in skiers and snowboarders.

Levy AS, Smith RH. Intermountain Neurosurgery and St. Anthony Central Hospital, Denver, Colorado80204, USA.

Neurologic injures are the leading cause of death and disability in skiing and snowboarding accidents, despite accounting for only a small fraction of injuries overall. Head injuries make up 3 to 15% of all skiing and snowboarding related injuries, spinal injuries account for 1 to 13%, and peripheral nerve injuries constitute less than 1% of reported injuries. Improvements in equipment and technology, especially advances in binding technology, have resulted in decreased injury rates on the slopes overall, but neurologic injury rates have not decreased, and in fact appear to be increasing as a percentage of overall injuries and in absolute numbers. With advances in technology and slope maintenance, skiers and boarders progress to higher skill levels and faster speeds more rapidly than ever before. Great efforts have been focused on reducing extremity injuries in skiers and snowboarders, but until recently very little attention has been given to neurologic injury prevention on the slopes. Hopefully with increased awareness and the growing popularity of ski/snowboard helmets, we will begin to see head injury rates (and maybe even spine injury rates) decrease among skiers and snowboarders.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hot off the presses, for the sake of completeness. Please get a helmet if you don't already have one (I know, I've already put you to sleep.)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...4/ixworld.html

Quote:
1: BMJ. 2005 Jan 4; [Epub ahead of print]
Effectiveness of helmets in skiers and snowboarders: case-control and case crossover study.

Hagel BE, Pless IB, Goulet C, Platt RW, Robitaille Y. Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, 4075 RTF, 8308-114 Street, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E1.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of helmets on the risk of head and neck injuries in skiers and snowboarders. DESIGN: Matched case-control and case crossover study. SETTING: 19 ski areas in Quebec, Canada, November 2001 to April 2002. PARTICIPANTS: 1082 skiers and snowboarders (cases) with head and neck injuries reported by the ski patrol and 3295 skiers and snowboarders (controls) with non-head or non-neck injuries matched to cases at each hill.
MAIN OUTCOME
MEASURES: Estimates of matched odds ratios for the effect of helmet use on the risk of any head or neck injury and for people requiring evacuation by ambulance. RESULTS: The adjusted odds ratio for helmet use in participants with any head injury was 0.71 (95% confidence interval 0.55 to 0.92), indicating a 29% reduction in the risk of head injury. For participants who required evacuationby ambulance for head injuries, the adjusted odds ratio for helmet use was 0.44 (0.24 to 0.81). Similar results occurred with the case crossover design (odds ratio 0.43, 0.09 to 1.83). The adjusted odds ratio for helmet use for participants with any neck injury was 0.62 (0.33 to 1.19) and for participants who required evacuation by ambulance for neck injuries it was 1.29 (0.41 to 4.04). CONCLUSIONS: Helmets protect skiers and snowboarders against head injuries. We cannot rule out the possibility of an increased risk of neck injury with helmet use, but the estimates on which this assumption is based are imprecise.
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