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February 17, 2010

Skiers, Snowboarders, and Safety Helmets

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Neurosurgery, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto (Dr Cusimano); and Injury Prevention Research Office, St Michael's Hospital and University of Toronto (Dr Cusimano and Ms Kwok), Toronto, Canada.

JAMA. 2010;303(7):661-662. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.147

As the Winter Olympics focus the world's attention on alpine sports, opportunities will arise to promote the use of personal protective equipment while skiing or snowboarding. Of the 600 000 ski- and snowboard-related injuries each year, an estimated 15% to 20% are traumatic brain injuries,1 which are the leading cause of hospitalization and account for 50% to 88% of total deaths in skiers and snowboarders.2 The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 44% of head injuries sustained during skiing and snowboarding could be prevented by the use of helmets and that the use of helmets for children could reduce head injuries during these activities in this group by 53%.2 Furthermore, recent studies have shown that helmets are associated with up to a 60% reduction in the risk of head injuries and that their use does not appear associated with an increased incidence of cervical spine or neck injury.2

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