Is it Really Worth Wearing a Ski Helmet?
Just a few years ago only 25% of recreational skiers were wearing helmets. Now that number has trebled. Curiously the number of serious head injuries recorded has remained largely the same. Does this mean that ski helmets are pointless?
Michael Schumacher’s infamous accident has done little to encourage the wearing of helmets. The formula 1 star was wearing his and tests have proved that it wasn’t faulty. Schumacher sustained a head injury so grave that he almost died. He was left in an induced coma for months. His progress since has been shrouded in mystery.
It now thought that Michael Schumacher’s helmet failed because of the GoPro camera mounted to it. The camera may have weakened the structure of the helmet causing it to break in two when Schumacher’s head struck a rock. When the accident occurred he was skiing off piste in Meribel.
The freak accident was proof positive that a ski helmet may not save you. However, a different set of circumstances may have yielded a different result. Every accident is unique but why is it that helmets haven’t yet significantly reduced the number of serious head injuries overall?
It is possible that helmets have caused complacency amongst some skiers. Perhaps leading them to take more risks. It is also the case that more people are participating in freestyle skiing which involves dangerous manoeuvres, fixed obstacles and jumps. Some people have also suggested that helmets might impede skiers’ hearing.
It could also be the case with helmets that technology has yet to catch up with the more dangerous activity on the slopes. Ski helmets aren’t perfect but they are becoming progressively more technologically advanced. New materials and constructions are being evolved that provide improved protection through more effective shock absorption.
New Technology and Ski Helmets
Whilst the number of serious head injuries doesn’t appear to have fallen, studies suggest that helmets have made a significant difference to the incidence of minor injuries. Research indicates that helmets could reduce such injuries by up to 45%. As helmets are improved over time they can only become more effective in this regard. It should also be born in mind that helmets do degrade over time or during an impact and many skiers could have been injured as a result of wearing a compromised helmet. Any helmet which has been involved in an impact should be discarded and helmets should be replaced every three years.
Better Safe than Sorry
There is so much conflicting evidence that right now it is impossible to know to what degree ski helmets really enhance safety. However, they can’t do any harm so why not wear one just in case? They did used to be considered uncool but new designs and increasing safety concerns have seen to it that this is no longer the case. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Even expert skiers can lose control or fall victim to the mistakes of others. A helmet could make all the difference, you just never know.