An article published in the New York Times is suggesting that even with an increase in helmet usage of over 70% amongst enthusiasts over the last eleven years, the number of serious head injuries and fatalities sustained through snowsports in the US has stayed at the same rate.
It’s a worrying idea that even by constantly wearing a helmet it doesn’t reduce the risk of some serious brain traumas; one example the article highlights is the kind where due to external forces the brain rotates within the skull, tearing soft tissues. Modern helmets currently offer no protection for such events.
It should be noted though that wearing a helmet of course still offers more protection that not. Obviously. Injuries like skin lacerations and fractures of the actual skull, but at high velocities such as those experienced whilst using high level snow park features the level of protection offered for internal injuries can be almost completely overwhelmed.
Some experts are blaming the steady rise of head injuries to the level of progression snowsports have seen over the past few decades, “all of those factors – terrain parks, jumping cliffs and opening terrain that maybe wasn’t open in the past – play into some of these statistics with injuries,” says Nina Winans, a sports medicine physician from Tahoe Forest MultiSpecialty Clinics.
So rather than helmets being useless, it is probable that an increase in the level of risk taken has had a larger effect of the statistics than the increase in their use. Indeed, the statistics would probably be a lot worse if no one was wearing a helmet.
So rather than chucking your helmet away, the crux of the article seems to be while wearing a helmet is still strongly recommended, riders should always be aware that there is no 100% effective preventative measure against head injuries.
Stay safe, always make sure you’re helmet is up to scratch and carries the most up to date protection standard stickers and ride within your abilities. If you need help choosing the most suitable protection for you, be sure to check out our handy video guide here.