Local News

Study: Helmets Reduce Risk Of Serious Injury While On Slopes

Posted February 21, 2006 7:09 a.m. EST

— All the skiers and snowboarders in the Winter Olympics wear helmets when they compete, but on U.S. slopes, only a third of the people bother to wear them. Some question whether a helmet is really necessary on snowy slopes.

"I've been doing this for such a long time without the helmet and I still do without," said skier Trond Engebretsen.

A new study about helmets could change his mind. Norwegian researchers studied head injury rates in thousands of skiers and snowboarders.

"First of all, the study showed that head injuries are very common. One in every six injuries in the study was a head injury," said Dr. Roald Bahr, of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences.

Plus, researchers found head injuries on snowboards were twice as common as those on skis. The study in the

Journal of the American Medical Association

touts the benefits of wearing a helmet.

"Wearing a helmet, if you're a skier or snowboarder, reduces your risk of having a head injury by 60 percent," Bahr said.

Bahr said whether you are a gold medal contender or just out skiing or snowboarding for pleasure, it makes sense to protect your head. Trude Strom Solberg made her children wear helmets.

"They started to ask me, 'Why are you not wearing a helmet, Mommy?' I also feel safer and it's quite comfortable to wear," Solberg said.

The National Ski Areas Association suggests you make sure your helmet fits properly. Ones that do not fit or helmets from other sports can actually increase your chances of getting whiplash if you are involved in an accident.