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Ski Helmets Are Encouraged, But New Study Shows Limitations

Posted in: Blog, Serious Personal Injury // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
December 5, 2019

It’s that time of year again when both the snow and cold temperatures offer many opportunities to take to the slopes for skiing and snowboarding throughout Alberta.  Unfortunately, many individuals are seriously injured on the slopes and trails while skiing or snowboarding. 

The most common causes of injuries that occur when hitting the slopes are as a result of collisions with other skiers or snowboarders, falls, traveling too quickly and losing control, being tired, using equipment that doesn’t fit or work correctly, and collisions with objects such as fencing or trees.  Serious injuries that can occur include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, broken bones and severe lacerations.  When an accident on the ski hills is caused by negligence or carelessness of another individual or party, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. 

SKI HELMETS ARE RECOMMENDED SAFETY GEAR

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that both children and families wear certified ski helmets while skiing and snowboarding to lower the risk of head injuries.  Properly fitted ski helmets help protect your brain by absorbing the force from a crash or a fall.  Ski helmets have been found to reduce head injuries and facial and head lacerations.

There are other advantages to wearing a helmet.  Helmets help block the sun from your eyes and keep snow out of your face.  Helmets also help keep your head warm and can help hold your goggles in place.

It is essential that the helmet you wear is properly fitted.  The helmet should sit on your head evenly and not tilt from side to side when the strap is fastened.  The helmet should fit snugly as well. 

STUDY SHOWS SKI HELMETS HAVE LIMITATIONS

Dr. Eleah Porter and Dr. Andrew Crockett, surgeons from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, studied more than 700 injured skiers and snowboarders who were brought into their medical facility over eight years from 35 ski areas in New Hampshire and Vermont.  The doctors found that even those wearing helmets could suffer severe injuries, including internal bleeding in their head.

Dr. Porter, the study’s lead author, stated the following regarding helmets:

They protect against things that are completely preventable. … We know they protect against some things.  They protect you against cracking open your skull, they protect your neck from injuries, but they may not protect you from having bleeds on your head, and that’s an important thing to consider. … Just like a seatbelt, helmets have limitations.

Helmets can provide a buffer against skull fractures and certain spine injuries.  Physicians recommend that skiers and snowboarders wear helmets, but they do not make them invincible.

The study had two main conclusions that all skiers and snowboarders should be aware of.  It found that wearing a helmet does not mean that you shouldn’t be evaluated by a physician after a bad bump or crash.  Secondly, the study found that all skiers and riders should know their limits.  Skiers and riders should only attempt to travel on terrain that meets their skill level and it is imperative to control your speed.

Dr. Porter advised:

You should wear a helmet, but you should also ski within your ability.  You have to ski safely.  You have to ski within your abilities.

Dr. Crockett noted:

Our bottom line is that it is equally as important to wear a helmet as it is to practice safe skiing.  A helmet should not dissuade a trauma evaluation and some impact forces go beyond that which a helmet can provide protection.

TIPS TO AVOID INJURIES ON THE SLOPES

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers encourage everyone to enjoy the winter season and the opportunity to ski or snowboard and would like to offer a few precautions to minimize the risk of injury while on the ski hills.

  1. Take a ski or snowboard lesson and do not attempt to ski or ride down slopes or trails that exceed your skill level.
  2. Always wear a helmet to reduce the risk or severity of a head injury.
  3. Inspect the bindings on skis and snowboards and replace any that show signs of wear or appear defective.
  4. Dress for the weather conditions to avoid frostbite.
  5. Always be aware of your surroundings and the location of hazards, including other skiers or riders.
  6. You should look uphill and yield to others before proceeding downhill or merging into a trail.
  7. Only ski in designated areas and do not enter closed trails or areas marked off as closed.
  8. Refrain from skiing or riding while under the influence as drug and alcohol use can slow your reaction time, diminish your co-ordination, and cloud your judgment.
  9. Take a rest when you begin to feel tired or fatigued to avoid injury.

If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury while skiing or snowboarding through no fault of your own, the lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers can help.   To receive more information about your legal options, please contact the award winning personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or at 403-571-0555.  We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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