Wearing A Helmet When Skiing Can Save your Spine

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: January 21, 2016

spine safety when skiing

We’ve already discussed how helmets can save your life when you’re on a motorcycle or on the water, but now that winter is here, we again think it’s time to talk about these spine-saving devices. If you plan on hitting the skiing or snowboarding slopes this winter, don’t forget to bring your helmet.

Even though the fresh powder may look soft, the frozen ground offers little padding in the event of a crash. That sentiment was proven by research published in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

Spine Safety on the Slopes

To determine if helmets were doing a good job protecting the head and neck of skiers and snowboarders, researchers examined 16 different studies which focused on one of three main issues: helmets and their association with fatal and non-fatal injuries, helmets and their association with head and spine injuries and helmets and their role in risk mitigation.

The studies offered some key findings about just how many injuries helmets helped prevent:

  • A Canadian study showed that neck injuries occurred at double the rate in un-helmeted riders.
  • A second Canadian study revealed that helmet use on the slopes reduced a person’s risk of suffering a severe head wound by 56 percent.
  • A Norwegian study uncovered that helmets reduced overall odds of head wounds, concussions and fractures.
  • A U.S. study found that all head injuries were reduced by 15 percent when a skier or snowboarder was equipped with a helmet.
  • All studies examining if helmets increased head or neck injury likelihood due to their added weight found no such correlation. Instead, one study found that a lack of a helmet correlated with a two-fold increase in neck injuries while downhill skiing.

Additionally, skiers who wore helmets did not participate in riskier behaviors on the slopes because they assumed they were better protected because of their helmet use than non-helmeted skiers. This lead researchers to concluded that “the beneficial effects of helmets are not negated by unintended risks because their use does not seem to increase the risk of neck or cervical spine injury as compared to non-helmeted participants in skiing and snowboarding.”

In essence, all the evidence suggests that helmeted riders are safer on the slopes. If you want to do right by your head, neck and spine this winter, don’t forget to strap on your helmet when you hit the slopes.

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