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Helmets help to prevent ski and snowboard related fatalities

January 15, 2014

Seven-time world champion Formula One race car driver Michael Schumacher sustained life-threatening injuries while skiing in France. Doctors believe that the helmet Mr. Schumacher was wearing when he fell may have saved his life.

It is not surprising that Mr. Schumacher was wearing a helmet. A February 2012 survey found that more than 80% of Canadians wore a helmet while skiing or snowboarding. Similarly, the U.S. based National Ski Areas Association reported that helmet use increased from 25% in 2003-20004 to 67% in 2012-2013. Unfortunately, while studies show a 30-50% reduction in general head injuries during this time, there has been no significant reduction in ski related fatalities.

Better reporting of head injuries may help explain why helmet use has not resulted in lower skiing fatality rates. While technological advances in equipment and greater access to previously out-of-bounds terrain allows skiers to go faster, perform bigger tricks and ultimately increase the chance of injury. Another explanation may be the lack of safety testing of ski helmets. In fact, the Canadian safety standard for ski helmets is a voluntary standard so difficult to meet that no helmet manufacturers have even applied.

A November 2012 study led by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland indicated that helmets save lives without increasing the risk of injury. The results of this study should provide support for the Canadian Pediatric Society’s call for mandatory helmet legislation, a law Nova Scotia adopted at the same time of the published study.

Wearing a proper fitting helmet is just one way to lessen the risk associated with skiing and snowboarding. However, if you, or someone you know, has suffered a catastrophic injury while skiing or snowboarding a Personal Injury Alliance lawyer may be able to help, contact us for a free legal consultation.

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