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Helmet Study

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#1
I almost hate to open this can of worms, but a recent study by trauma surgeons at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center finds that serious head injuries actually go UP with ski helmet use.

From Unofficial Networks:

The surgeons wanted to know if wearing ski helmets help to prevent traumatic injury. So they investigated the relationship between helmet use, injury types, and injury severity among skiers and snowboarders with and without helmets.

The results were surprising. Over the course of the study, seven hundred twenty-one patients (65% helmeted, 35% unhelmeted) met inclusion criteria. Though helmet use doubled during the study period (43% to 81%), the rate of any head injury did not significantly change (49% to 43%). On multivariable regression, helmeted patients were significantly more likely to suffer severe injury. this included intracranial hemorrhage, chest injury, and/or lumbosacral spine injury than unhelmeted patients.

However, helmeted patients were half as likely to suffer cervical spine injury and a third as likely to sustain skull fracture and/or scalp laceration.

Their conclusion is that helmeted skiers and snowboarders evaluated at a Level I trauma center were more likely to suffer severe injury, including intracranial hemorrhage, as compared with unhelmeted participants. However, they were less likely to sustain skull fractures or cervical spine injuries.

One of the authors of the Study Dr. Andrew Crockett, told Vermont Public Radio, “The ‘why’ is a tough tough question to answer. Just looking at our numbers and anecdotally, the best solution is just that despite the use of helmets, in the patients that we’ve seen at our facility, they’ve received so much traumatic energy that the helmets hasn’t proven to be as effective as we would like.”

“Perhaps patients who are getting into these major traumas and ending up in our center who are helmeted, perhaps they have a false sense of security when they’re wearing a helmet and they’re skiing more recklessly or outside of their capabilities.” Dr. Eleah Porter

Both Dr. Porter and Dr. Crockett still endorse helmet use but would like to remind first responders not to assume that a helmeted individual has not sustained a serious head injury.


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My takeaway: However, they were less likely to sustain skull fractures or cervical spine injuries.

That's good enough for me.
 
#3
That's good enough for me.
And it seems quite unlikely that helmets could make your skiing accidents worse, so I believe they offer protection. It’s up to the skier to stay in control and use appropriate caution. Some accidents are inevitable, and I’d rather be wearing a helmet if that happened!
 
#4
“Perhaps patients who are getting into these major traumas and ending up in our center who are helmeted, perhaps they have a false sense of security when they’re wearing a helmet and they’re skiing more recklessly or outside of their capabilities.” Dr. Eleah Porter

THIS ^^^ I think this major- I've heard people on the chair make foolish statements that "they can do this or that and not to worry, they have a helmet on"

For Me, I'll stick with my helmet. after my Dad got hit and I went w/him to the brain surgeon to look at the films of the bleeding on his brain, I learned a lot about brains and how long for the bleeding to make it thru the ventricles, listening to the Dr. he called helmets a brain buckets. He suggested wearing one driving and stated if you hit your steering wheel even at 10mph can kill you or cause serious brain injury! Yikes!

I love my helmet, it's warm, it has saved me from the bar bonking me and 'just in case' I'd rather have some protection than a flimsy wool hat on my head.
 
#5
A few years back, my DH got hit by a young kid. They weren't going very fast but the impact was enough to knock them both down. DH smacked his head into the edge of the kid's ski when he hit the ground. The impact left a nice straightline dent in the side of the helmet. To think if he wasn't wearing his helmet, the impact would have sliced his head open.
And yes, more than once my own noggin was saved from the chairlift smack because of my helmet.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
As a retired statistician who started out working for a research group focused on highway safety and accidents, the first thing that jumps out at me is that the study was done on "patients." That's the equivalent of studying seatbelts only for accidents that result in injuries that require a trip to the ER immediately afterwards. There used to be a fair number of people who didn't want to wear their seatbelts because they heard of stories of people who were injured by the seatbelt, which does happen in certain types of serious accidents.

I've smacked the back of my head on a groomer a couple of times in recent years. Was very glad I had a helmet.

. . . Their conclusion is that helmeted skiers and snowboarders evaluated at a Level I trauma center were more likely to suffer severe injury, including intracranial hemorrhage, as compared with unhelmeted participants. However, they were less likely to sustain skull fractures or cervical spine injuries. . . .
The idea that after a bad accident, no one in the ER should assume the person's head is okay just because they are wearing a helmet makes sense to me.

" . . . Both Dr. Porter and Dr. Crockett still endorse helmet use but would like to remind first responders not to assume that a helmeted individual has not sustained a serious head injury. . . ."

It would be good if everyone learned more about the signs and symptoms of a concussion for the cases where the person doesn't have to be treated by a medical professional.
 
#8
"It would be good if everyone learned more about the signs and symptoms of a concussion for the cases where the person doesn't have to be treated by a medical professional."

This: ^^^ I am aware of a sad skier death.. This Dec. an adult skier who was in a race camp at Kton, was hit from behind by a snowboarder, her friends said she was a bit dizzy but got up skied to lodge (not far away) She quit skiing and went to hotel. Sometime later she went into Full medical shut down, it took 20min for ambulance to arrive by then she was in Grave condition. Flown to Dartmouth where she died less than 24hrs from being hit!
I am still in shock that this happened.

Lessons learned:
Never take a head thump lightly.
If you get hit and are dizzy go get examined.
ALWAYS Report the incident to Ski patrol-If Possible Wait for them to come try and keep all involved there.

This is So sad Since she was "OK" no patrol was called, The snowboarder (who has to feel horrible if he now knows she died) along with their friends/family are the only ones aware of the 'hit" that resulted in death.

A friend always skied in his Motorcycle helmet since they apparently are better in a crash? Maybe not a bad idea.. I personally stop skiing if it becomes 'combat' skiing and too busy or fast/out of control skiers are on the slopes. My greatest fear is being hit from behind..

Stay safe out there!!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#9
"It would be good if everyone learned more about the signs and symptoms of a concussion for the cases where the person doesn't have to be treated by a medical professional."
For those interested, the videos on the CDC webpage about concussions are worth viewing. Geared towards parents, but really applies to anyone. I learned a lot when my daughter was required to do the concussion awareness training program that was designed for high school athletes. Parents were required to do it for new students. Students are required to repeat the course every two years. It was an online course, with questions to check that someone is paying attention.

https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html

One of the points emphasized in the course for high school athletes is that staying off the playing field and taking it easy is VERY important. Really need to give the brain time to fully recover. Once someone has had a concussion, they are more susceptible to another one.
 

Covie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
I almost hate to open this can of worms, but a recent study by trauma surgeons at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center finds that serious head injuries actually go UP with ski helmet use.

From Unofficial Networks:

The surgeons wanted to know if wearing ski helmets help to prevent traumatic injury. So they investigated the relationship between helmet use, injury types, and injury severity among skiers and snowboarders with and without helmets.

The results were surprising. Over the course of the study, seven hundred twenty-one patients (65% helmeted, 35% unhelmeted) met inclusion criteria. Though helmet use doubled during the study period (43% to 81%), the rate of any head injury did not significantly change (49% to 43%). On multivariable regression, helmeted patients were significantly more likely to suffer severe injury. this included intracranial hemorrhage, chest injury, and/or lumbosacral spine injury than unhelmeted patients.

However, helmeted patients were half as likely to suffer cervical spine injury and a third as likely to sustain skull fracture and/or scalp laceration.

Their conclusion is that helmeted skiers and snowboarders evaluated at a Level I trauma center were more likely to suffer severe injury, including intracranial hemorrhage, as compared with unhelmeted participants. However, they were less likely to sustain skull fractures or cervical spine injuries.

One of the authors of the Study Dr. Andrew Crockett, told Vermont Public Radio, “The ‘why’ is a tough tough question to answer. Just looking at our numbers and anecdotally, the best solution is just that despite the use of helmets, in the patients that we’ve seen at our facility, they’ve received so much traumatic energy that the helmets hasn’t proven to be as effective as we would like.”

“Perhaps patients who are getting into these major traumas and ending up in our center who are helmeted, perhaps they have a false sense of security when they’re wearing a helmet and they’re skiing more recklessly or outside of their capabilities.” Dr. Eleah Porter

Both Dr. Porter and Dr. Crockett still endorse helmet use but would like to remind first responders not to assume that a helmeted individual has not sustained a serious head injury.

----------------------------------------------

My takeaway: However, they were less likely to sustain skull fractures or cervical spine injuries.

That's good enough for me.
This makes to me because helmets are keeping some of these people who fell out of the hospital to begin with. So naturally only the severe accidents of helmet wearers are going to the hospital, and if the accident is that bad it is known that a helmet doesn’t make too much difference.
 
#11
This “study” is not overly scientific.. The only real way to know how much a helmet is protecting someone versus not would be to have a positive control, so you’d need to have a helmeted and non-helmeted individual have the same accident going at the same speed in the same place etc. and then compare the injuries with and without a helmet. Like crash test dummies with and without a seatbelt for example. We don’t have that here, we just have random people skiing with and without helmets and having whatever type of accident. What if these people are less risk averse or very elite skiers compared to the general population and therefore doing crazier things while wearing a helmet, what would that really say about the skier population as a whole? Not much.. There are too many variables and lots of conjecture to really draw much of a conclusion from this in my opinion..
 
#13
It does seem likely that imagining you can take more risks is the primary “danger” of wearing a helmet. I’ve never skied without one, so I don’t know the difference. I’m careful all the time! Too old to risk much at all.
 

MI-skier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
I'll wear mine always. My greatest fear as well is that I'm going to get hit from behind. My DH was hit by a snowboarder jumping out the trees from the side. Wrecked his knees for the season.
 
#15
I dislike wearing one. But I'm a better safe than sorry person in general, and ever since my husband's friend was knocked down getting off a lift and suffered a head injury (he was actually wearing a helmet but had unbuckled to talk on his cell phone, and it flew off and he slammed his head on the icy ground as he fell getting off the chair, and he was profoundly impacted for a year--he couldn't work for 6 months) WHEW run on sentence anyhoo ever since then, I mind it a lot less.
 

ddskis

Certified Ski Diva
#19
Well I don’t really like wearing a helmet either. I started skiing long before helmets. I do like that my head is generally warmer, but I miss the wind in my hair feel, and hate that I can’t hear as well. I find helmets constricting and annoying.

I have a total pinhead too and have had a hard time getting a good fit. I finally found a great one that fits so that’s solved. Before that the only one that fit well was a junior sized one w/Frozen stickers on it and hubs said he wouldn’t ski with me if I wore that one.

We both started wearing helmets after hubs skied into a tree. Thankfully no head injury but a nice 3 night stay in trauma ICU helped convince us pdq.

I got hit by a snowboarder and blasted right out of my skis. Hubs said I did a matrix move up in the air before slamming my head on the slope. Was glad to have my helmet for that!

And of all the injuries to avoid, C spine trauma would be my first choice, so that’s good enough for me.
 
#20
plus, now you look like a pinhead if you’re the only person not wearing a helmet in the liftline!
I think you'd be very surprised at how many people don't use a helmet in at the small hills in the southeast. It's not hard to understand. Renting gear is expensive enough without adding $8-10 per day for a helmet.

At Alta, there are still older skiers who don't wear a helmet. I'm thinking of folks who are not skiing groomers expect as a way to get from one favorite off-piste area to another.
 

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