Does the use of helmets give skiers and snowboarders a sense of invulnerability and thus encourage riskier behavior on the slopes?
No, says a recently published study led by Johns Hopkins University. Instead, helmets reduce the risk and severity of head injuries and saves lives.
"There really is a great case to be made for wearing helmets," says Dr. Adil H. Haider, the study’s leader and an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The Johns Hopkins news release states that helmets have become common on slopes in the past 10 years: 57% of skiers and boarders wore them during the 2009-10 season, up from 25% in 2002-03.
Arguments against wearing helmets on the slopes have included:
- Reduced visibility.
- Impaired hearing.
- Helmet’s weight could cause whiplash during a crash.
- Inflated sense of invincibility.
Says Haider: "These are all just excuses. Our research shows none of those theories hold water."
Approximately 10 million Americans ski or snowboard each year, and of the 600,000 injuries caused annually on the slopes, up to 20% are head injuries.
This could be why Haider and members of his family—all skiers, the news release points out—all wear helmets.
What’s your stance on wearing helmets for snowsports?
Blue helmet: Men's Smith Variant Brim Snow Helmet. Green helmet: Women's RED by Burton, Asylum Snow Helmet.