Changes to popular skiing areas over the past decade, from open slopes to more wooded areas, mean that more snowboarders and skiers are moving slowly enough to benefit from the added protection a helmet can provide. The finding is one result of research recently published in the peer-reviewed, quarterly medical journal, Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.
Each year in the U.S., alone, 60 million skiing trips are taken, and those trips result in an estimated 139,000 emergency room visits. While controversy has historically existed regarding the protective value of a helmet in a high-velocity crash, the team of physician researchers who conducted this study have demonstrated that skiiers on the gladed slopes that are more prevalent today tend to travel at lower speeds — speeds below 15 m.p.h. nearly 90% of the time — and that helmets can provide significant protection against Traumatic Brain Injury at those speeds.
Authors of the study suggest that the medical community has been slower to recommend helmet use for snow skiers than it has been for other athletic activities, but that physician groups should keep abreast of changes in the sport and adapt their recommendations accordingly.
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