Skiers Need Helmets to Avoid Concussions

While some clients head out for cruises or the sun in the winter, a growing number choose the slopes. Snowboarding has been growing in popularity as well. Once or twice a year, we receive a call from a client who has been injured while skiing and wonders if there is a potential lawsuit. Unlike car accidents, there is usually one party involved-the skier-who takes an assumed risk when he skis. Sometimes there is the reckless behavior of another skier or snowboarder or there is a faulty lift, tow-line or other facility linked defect. More often than not, it is just the risk of the sport itself. Most people assume that ski injuries result in broken bones and are surprised to find that concussions and serious brain trauma are the most common injury suffered by skiers.

In recent years, there have been countless stories involving celebrities who have fallen or collided while skiing and been killed or seriously injured by severe brain trauma. These are the stories that make headline news. Emergency room physicians have more reports of the common folk sustaining concussions or other serious head trauma while skiing- in fact, according to the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma the number of ski-related brain trauma injuries is “alarming.

This study sparked a debate as to whether or not it was better or more dangerous to wear a ski helmet while skiing or snowboarding.

Researchers from the department of sport sciences at the University of Innsbruck set out to determine whether wearing a helmet increased skier’s willingness to take risks, whereupon helmets may actually decrease safety on the slopes.
They found the opposite. In fact, the more experienced the skier, the more likely they were to wear a helmet. In addition they found that helmets reduce the risk of serious head injury by as much as 60 percent. Still, a surprising number of safety experts and snow sports enthusiasts remain convinced that helmets did not reduce overall risk.

A survey of ski patrollers from across the country found that 77 percent did not wear helmets because they worried that it would reduce peripheral vision, hearing and response times.

However, researchers brought snowboarders and skiers into the lab in 2011 to test this theory. They found that peripheral vision and reaction times were virtually unchanged when a helmet was worn as compared with wearing a hat. Goggles slightly reduced peripheral vision and response times but helmets had no significant effect.

Dr. Adil H. Haider, a trauma surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore states that the take-away form the growing body of science is unequivocal, “Helmets are safe. They don’t increase risk taking. And they protect against serious, even fatal head injuries. The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma has issued a recommendation that “all recreational skiers and snowboarders should wear safety helmets,” making them the first medical group to on record advocation universal helmet use.

The lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have represented many clients who have sustained serious injury due to a head trauma. John Grazian is an avid skier who was convinced to wear a helmet three years ago after a client was severely injured in a ski accident and another lost his life. We advise all our clients to wear protective head gear whenever engaged in an activity that presents the potential of a fall or collision. Skiing and snowboarding presents serious risk of head trauma.

Remember, it is always better to remain safe and avoid injury, but if you can’t stay safe, stay with Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s Leading Accident Lawyers for over 30 years.

Grazian & Volpe, Part of the Lloyd Miller Law Group