Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.See all posts »
Skiing and Snowboarding-Related Head Injuries
I’ve written a number of times about the utility of helmets in preventing or mitigating traumatic brain injuries associated with skiing and snowboarding. Which groups of people who participate in these sports would benefit most from education and reminders about safe skiing and snowboarding, and be encouraged to wear helmets?
The American College of Emergency Physicians held a Research Forum in association with its Annual Scientific Meeting in Denver, Colorado in October, 2012. One of the presentations was entitled “Skiing and Snowboarding-related Head Injuries in the United States: A Retrospective Analysis from 2004-2010." The study objectives were to determine the scope, trends, and characteristics of skiing and snowboarding-related head injuries in the U.S. across 6 consecutive winter seasons.
Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission were used. Out of an estimated 68,761 head injuries sustained while skiing or snowboarding, males accounted for 69% of head injuries and snowboarders for 58% of head injuries. Riders ages 11 to 17 years suffered a greater proportion of head injuries than did any other age group. The percentage of helmeted riders that sustained head injuries increased from 37% to 58% over the 6-year period, which correlates with data about increases in helmet use in the general population. The major conclusions relevant to injury prevention were that males, snowboarders, and teenagers were most likely to be injured. That is where the injury prevention programs should be focused.
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