Helmet Safety on the Slopes

The news of Natasha Richardson’s death, daughter to famous Vanessa Redgrave and wife to Liam Neeson, shocked the world. What was to be an exciting and relaxing skiing adventure, turned to tragedy after a fall in which she suffered fatal head injuries. Another high profile incident occurred when a mother collided with a German politician on the slopes in Austria. She suffered a fatal brain injury while the politician, who was wearing a helmet, survived the incident. Enough proof to show that helmets are a necessity.

Researchers believe that skiing helmets should be promoted more aggressively and be made available to the public at resorts. Many believe that they should be included in skiing packages and be on the shelves of equipment rental stores. There are those who believe that ski helmets only cause a false sense of security. However, it has been seen that more advanced and skilled skiers are making use of helmets more frequently. This is not only because they take on more dangerous terrain than amateur skiers but because they have seen and experienced the risk of the sport. Safety is essential in any sport, and it should be the same with skiing.

Researchers have been conducting studies in regard to skiing helmets, and it was found that helmets can reduce a head injury by at least thirty-five percent. With children under the age of thirteen, helmets were able to reduce injury by fifty-nine percent. The study also showed that with injuries reported, up to nineteen percent were head injuries, and that seventy-four percent of head injuries were caused by skiers’ heads hitting the snow, thirteen percent were because of hitting solid objects such as trees and the remaining ten percent was caused by collisions.

Researchers, such as Gerhard Ruedl from the University of Innsbruck (Austria), know that convincing skiers who have been participating the sport for years that helmets are essential will take some time, as most believe only children should wear them. But it is hoped that by educating the skiing public regarding the risks and damage that can be caused to the brain, more skiers will begin to embrace wearing helmets, recognizing that they are a vital safety measure and small price to pay if they can reduce injuries and save lives.