Should I wear a helmet skiing and snowboarding?

Snowboarder wearing a helmet at the top of the mountain

Believe it or not, in the last 10 years, there has been an average of 40 deaths each year from skiing and snowboarding accidents. Of those, less than 20 percent were wearing helmets (National Ski Areas Association). Further, an evaluation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission showed that 40 percent of skiing or snowboarding-related head injuries could have been prevented or minimized with helmet use.

Steven Erickson, MD and Bryce Nalepa, an athletic trainer at the Banner Concussion Center weighed in on this issue to better understand the benefit of wearing a helmet on a mountain.

They told me that, while helmets help prevent serious injury, they do not actually protect against concussions. Rather, they partially absorb the force and dissipate the energy of blunt force trauma in an effort to protect the head.

But skiing and snowboarding are dangerous sports, right? Helmets do not actually reduce the risk of injury. You’ll have to hang out all day inside the ski lodge for that. But, they do help decrease the severity of injuries by preventing skull fractures and intracranial bleeding (bleeding within the skull).

If you are about to take off to go buy yourself or a family member a helmet before that next winter trip, keep in mind that helmets should be fitted by a trained person, and if the helmet sustains any type of damage, you should replace it.

You’re welcome for all this information on how to protect your head, but I can’t help you get off the chairlift.

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