The importance of wearing a helmet when you ski


Posted on January 27, 2022 by James Slauterbeck, M.D.
James Slauterbeck, M.D.


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As an epic storm hits the Northeast and snow blasts Colorado. It’s time to grab your skis and boards and head to the mountains. But, it’s important to remember not to forget your helmet.

Having seen tens of thousands of skiers and riders in the Northeast, two things are very clear - wearing a helmet protects your head and more people are now wearing helmets. According to Jasper Shealy, a world-renowned expert on snow sports injuries, more skiers and riders are wearing helmets today. Some have reported up to 80 percent of skiers and riders are now wearing a helmet. With this trend, helmet wearing is becoming a fashion statement, but the bigger impact, of course, is on injury reduction.

Wearing a helmet protects your head from other common injuries like skull fractures, facial injuries, broken noses, lacerations and bruises. However, during typical falls while riding and skiing, wearing a helmet will not protect you from sustaining a concussion. The math calculations preventing brain injury from a fall on the snow or ice results in a helmet designed with several feet of “foam” surrounding the skull. 

The most common causes of head injuries in skiers and riders involve falling with the head impacting the snow, and the second most common is a collision with trees, poles and other people. Unfortunately, hitting a tree at 100 miles an hour with or without a helmet typically ends with many broken bones and serious head injuries including death. However, other moderate and minor injuries from typical falls are reduced or prevented by wearing a helmet.

Although it may be true that skiers and riders who wear helmets feel more invincible and ride faster and more dangerously than those without helmets, the most common snow sport injuries are prevented with helmet wearing. 

So, pack up the gear and head to the Northeast or out West. Wear your helmet on your next outing. Have fun, be safe and enjoy a great sport.


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