Last year was the second consecutive record breaker for Colorado ski resorts for skier visits, with over 12.5 million visitors during the season. Anyone who has been on the slopes recently has noticed not only the increase in the number of skiers, but also the dramatic increase in the number of helmeted skiers.
In an authoritative pediatric study, “Trends in Pediatric Skier and Snowboarder Injuries,” (TCH 2004) Lori A. McBride, MD, Ken R. Winston, MD, and Robert E. Breeze, MD reported on 215 patients, including skiers and snowboarders. Head injuries comprised 59 of the 215 patients, or 27.4%. There were three deaths in the series. All three were unhelmeted female skiers who struck a fixed object. No severe head injuries were reported among the helmeted children admitted following a skiing/snowboarding accident.
Other studies support these findings, and even Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade organization representing 26 Colorado ski resorts, recommends wearing a helmet. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) together with the help of many others in the ski industry has developed a web site to help educate parents about the benefits and limitations of helmets, Lids on Kids. http://www.lidsonkids.org/home.asp
But this advice is not restricted to youngsters. The first step for anyone hitting the slopes is to wear a helmet for protection. Earlier this week, a young father was killed when he lost control on a Telluride slope and slammed into a tree. The county coroner Bob Dempsey said, “If he had been wearing a helmet, he would be alive today.”