“Ski Helmet Use Isn’t Reducing Brain Injuries” | by New York Times

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Michael Schumacher in 2005. photo:  reuters
Michael Schumacher in 2005. photo: reuters

Helmet use is at an all time high.  According to the National Ski Areas Association 70% of skiers and riders in the USA use helmets.  Head injuries while skiing and riding in the USA have nevertheless remained at the same rates they were at before helmets became popular.  What’s the deal?  Why do we have more helmets, but the same amount of head injuries?  The New York Times digs deeper into the subject:

Ski Helmet Use Isn’t Reducing Brain Injuries

by Kelly McMillan/New York Times

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.

The site of Michael Schumacher's head injuring crash at Meribel ski resort in France.
The site of Michael Schumacher’s head injuring crash at Meribel ski resort in France.

Schumacher, the most successful Formula One driver in history, sustained a traumatic brain injury when he fell and hit his head on a rock while navigating an off-piste, or ungroomed, area at a resort in Méribel, France. Although he was wearing a helmet, he sustained injuries that have left him fighting for his life in a hospital in Grenoble, France.

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.

“The equipment we have now allows us to do things we really couldn’t do before, and people’s pushing limits has sort of surpassed people’s ability to control themselves,” said Chris Davenport, a professional big-mountain skier.

Read the full article here:

Ski Helmet Use Isn’t Reducing Brain Injuries

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16 thoughts on ““Ski Helmet Use Isn’t Reducing Brain Injuries” | by New York Times

  1. There is a new form of head injury now proved in outcomes of a product liability suit taking place. The CA courts have determined brain injuries from a procedure called electroshock or ECT. Being performed at leading facilities. It is no longer just for depression nor used as a last resort. It has no FDA clearance for safety or even effectiveness. It generates 5 billion annually in the US alone. Long term outcomes of electrical trauma, and that is what this is, includes CTE and ALS. Dr. Bennet Omalu, famous for findings of CTE in the NFL is now on record stating the same is anticipated in ECT patients given repeated brain injuries from electrical trauma.  All bodily systems impacted by this mechanism of trauma. Increase in suicide following this procedure. Two class action lawsuits taking place. One is in England and the national product liability suit is in the US around ECT devices. If you have had ECT please contact the DK law group to see if you qualify. Brain injury programs recognize electrical trauma for causation. See youtube videos under heading ectjustice to learn more. Inform yourselves and please have discussions on public social media so others are aware and can make infomed decisions around their health care. We are working to bring additional types of suits around this issue as consent is fallible. Patients are showing damages on testing. Given Covid and the mental distress many are at risk for being offered this and need the truth.

    1. Of course helmets work…but if you want to totally eliminate your chances at avoiding head injuries,stay in the lodge and have another…but don’t drive home.

  2. If it saves just one life it’s worth it. Last week I fell after buying ticket and walking down the asphalt to get to the snow and hit some black ice,feet flew up and I landed on my back and my head slammed the pavement, Only damage was the back of K2 helmet. If I didn’t have on the helmet I might not be posting this now. Liam Neisen wife would still be here today if she had a helmet. My buddy who snow board hit a tree a cracked helmet last year instead of his head. This is a very irresponsible for New York Times to write this article. I hope people do not decide to toss their helmets because of it.

  3. that looks like the kind of patch you just noodle slowly through, chillin’ in soft, low angle snow. judging by the mogul fields formed nearby, that patch has been left alone for a while.

  4. Wearing a helmet is a recognised and proven way to reduce the risk of a head injury, or to reduce the severity of an injury in the event of an impact. The fact is that head injuries don’t occur frequently, but anything that will reduce the risk of an injury can’t be dismissed. There have been a considerable number of research studies, all of which have proven that wearing a helmet will reduce the risk of sustaining a head injury by between 29 and 56% (depending on the year and the country where the study was conducted). These studies don’t take into account those people who weren’t injured after their fall because their helmet saved them, because there’s no reliable way of gathering such information for a certainty, so surely the actual figures are much higher than those published.

    Conspiracy theorists who complain about the use of helmets mostly claim that your helmet won’t save you from collisions at high speeds, largely because it usually only protects the head at low speeds (up to 22.5 km/h). Advanced skiers ride at speeds between 40-60 km/h on the red slopes, and in the event of a serious collision, a helmet won’t necessarily save such a skier from sustaining a serious injury. This is partly true, although not completely. The fact is that helmets have been tested with a two-metre drop onto an anvil at a speed of 22.5 km/h. Motorcycle helmets are tested with a three-metre drop, at speed of 27.36 km/h, and we can all imagine instances whereby a helmet has saved lives at far higher speeds. It’s true that a helmet can’t always protect you. Most fatalities occur when impact forces exceed the protective power of such ski helmets. Therefore, always follow the 10 FIS rules, and ski carefully and safely within your capabilities. Another criticism levelled at the helmet is that people who begin to wear one behave in a far more reckless way, thereby skiing faster. If you find yourself in a perilous situation, ask yourself if you’d do the same thing were you not wearing a helmet. If the answer is ‘no’, then don’t do it, with or without your helmet.

    Danko Puskaric
    Author of Skiing bestseller: The Truth about Skiing

  5. I’ve skied in france in fact I have skied in meribel. If its snowing you can’t always really tell where piste ends and off piste is. Its all above tree line and can become white out. Chris davenport would go hide in the lodge in these conditions that’s a fact. What would you people be saying if schumacher wasn’t wearing a helmet? He has spent more time in a helmet than 98% of the human population.

  6. Maybe not but they are saving lives …. Helmet use has kept me from dying in 2 pretty horrid ski crashes, I am living proof that helmets save lives.

  7. There was a time when sex was dangerous and skiing was safe. Now we practice safe sex and skiing is so dangerous that most everyone wears p.o.s. plastic pails on their heads thinking it keeps em safer.

    Not knocking helmets, but reality is, personal safety is about decision making, and the ability to have a wide field of awareness around you. Most good athletes have this, most city dwelling gapers don’t.

    Schumacher isn’t a gaper, lugerhead, yes, but it was his decision making to ski through that boulder field greedily seeking a few untracked turns that got him in trouble.

    Those lightweight plastic foam thingys probably won’t even protect you from a concussion when you slip and fall in the parking lot and slam your head. Gaperiffic.

    Advice. Stay away from skiing, stay far away, it is too dangerous.

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