By On January 18th, 2013

Brain Injury On Ski Slopes Rising Despite Helmets

For some people, winter means more than just coats, Christmas, and hot chocolate. For some, this season is all about skiing and snowboarding. But, these aren’t the safest hobbies, as almost anyone involved will admit.

Alexis Krisay has been snowboarding for around 15 years, and she doesn’t hesitate to mention the inherent danger in hitting the slopes. “I love the adrenaline rush of going fast, I’m kind of a daredevil. I definitely take a ton of risks,” she told Christine LaCroix at AZ Family.

With the recognition of the danger associated with skiing and snowboarding, also comes the decision to take what safety precautions you can. “Helmets, actually, I feel like they have become cool lately,” Krisay said.

And Krisay isn’t the only one. According to the National Ski Areas Association, 67-percent of people skiing or snowboarding now regularly wear helmets, an all-time high. That is surprising considering there has been a recent increase in brain injuries reported from crashes on the slopes.

One study, examining the number of emergency room visits connected to skiing or snowboarding related head injuries from 2004 to 2010, found the number to be much higher than in previous times.

“There was an increase in head injuries compared to times previous to that, and that was surprising to everyone, because if you go on the slopes now, more people are wearing helmets,” said Dr. Nicholas Theodore, director of Neurotrauma at the Barrow Neurological Institute.

The most likely reason for the increase in emergency room visits makes the statistic a bit less troubling. The probable reason is a raise in awareness driving people to the emergency room to get checked out when they fear they may have had a concussion. “Because of the visibility seen in the National Football League and in sports related concussions, they’re seeking treatment,” said Dr. Theodore.

It seems very odd to see an increase in head injuries during a time of heightened helmet usage, but this is one of the times when it is important to remember that coralation is not causation. You’re always safer with a helmet.

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