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Helmets can prevent six out of ten head injuries


A new study from the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center at the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences (NSSS) shows that six out of ten head injuries in alpine skiers and snowboarders can be prevented by using a ski helmet.

The Alpine Operators Association and Martina Hansens Hospital contributed information about 3,277 injured alpine skiers and snowboarders during the course of the 2002 winter season at eight of the larger alpine ski areas in Norway

Snowboarders running a greater risk

A total of 3,277 injured skiers and snowboarders and 2,992 non-injured controls where interviewed during the study period.

Injury type, helmet use, age, sex and skill level where among the factors taken into consideration when calculating injury risk.

The results showed that of the 3,277 recorded patients, one in six (17.6 percent) had a head injury. In addition, snowboarders had a 50 percent increased risk of head injuries compared to alpine skiers. Also, younger skiers and snowboarders, males and beginners were at higher risk.

However, the study also documented that helmets protect against head injuries well in all subgroups, snowboarders and skiers, younger and older.

Better role models

Using a helmet is mandatory for competitive skiers in World Cup events and the Olympics. But in the absence of clear recommendations from health authorities, ski resorts do not typically require helmets to be used.

The study revealed that in 2002 only 13 percent in the age group above 20 years used a helmet and only 20 percent in the age range between 13 and 20 years.

-The use of ski helmets should be far better advocated to prevent head injuries, especially among teenagers,” says professor and senior author of the study, Roald Bahr MD PhD at the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Department of Sports Medicine, NSSS.

As many as 85 percent under 13 years used a helmet, which means that helmet use promotion has been successful in children.

-But it is vital that adults set a better example and are aware of their responsibility as role models for teenagers and children,” says Bahr. “In doing so, they will even protect their own heads.” He hopes that the results of these studies can lead to a policy change at ski resorts worldwide.

Prof. Roald Bahr | alfa
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