Snowsports helmet studies - a model for the future?

Once again we have a study that supports the use of helmets in recreational skiers and snowboarders. The article, "An evidence-based review: Efficacy of safety helmets in the reduction of head injuries in recreational skiers and snowboarders", by Haider et al in the November 2012 issue of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery evaluated existing evidence regarding helmet use in snow sports with respect to head injuries, neck and cervical spine injuries, and risk compensation behaviors. The authors reviewed 16 existing studies and concluded “safety helmets clearly decrease the risk and severity of head injuries in skiing and snowboarding and do not seem to increase the risk of neck injury, cervical spine injury, or risk compensation behavior.”  

At Sportgevity we are focusing on snow sport helmet studies, not because we aim to prove what most of us already know - that helmets are worth wearing when you are sliding on snow -  but rather to highlight the type of research we want to begin seeing with other products that are out there on the market. Our future generations need to know what works and what doesn’t as more safety products are developed in years to come. 

As recently as 10 years ago, we really didn’t know how effective helmets were in skiing and snowboarding. In 1983, a study by Oh and Schmid suggested kids less than 17 years old should wear helmets, but it wasn’t until the mid 2000’s that we had enough evidence to support their use in other populations. We didn’t know whether helmet use encouraged faster more reckless skiing. We didn’t know if the weight of helmets during a fall would cause more cervical injuries. We didn’t even really know whether they actually reduced head trauma. Helmet studies have shown how careful evaluation of sport safety products can help guide future generations towards equipment that actually works. 

Snow sport helmet studies have shown the value of partnership between medical researchers and the world of athletics. Sports can benefit from the medical world’s  expertise in evaluating the effectiveness of products and procedures - while medical researchers can benefit from the fact that they are engaging in studies that will likely have profound effects on the safety and sustainability of large populations. This is a win win situation!

Sportgevity encourages the initiation of studies focusing on any athletic gear which is intended to improve safety and longevity. Studies of helmet use in snow sports can serve as a model for future research that helps us determine whether products do what they are intended to do, whether they alter our decision making and risk compensation behaviors, and most importantly whether they are effective overall. 

  • Do you have products that you would like to see evaluated? 
  • Are you a researcher and would you or your institution be interested in studying any specific athletic product?
  • Do you know of existing or ongoing research of any athletic products? 

If so, we would like to hear from you

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