An evidence-based review: Efficacy of safety helmets in the reduction of head injuries in recreational skiers and snowboarders

From the Center for Surgery Trials and Outcomes Research (A.H.H., T.S.), Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore Maryland
The journal of trauma and acute care surgery 11/2012; 73(5):1340-1347. DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318270bbca
Source: PubMed


Approximately 600,000 ski- and snowboarding-related injuries occur in North America each year, with head injuries accounting for up to 20% of all injuries. Currently, there are no major institutional recommendations regarding helmet use for skiers and snowboaders in the United States, in part owing to previous conflicting evidence regarding their efficacy. The objective of this review was to evaluate existing evidence on the efficacy of safety helmets during skiing and snowboarding, particularly in regard to head injuries, neck and cervical spine injuries, and risk compensation behaviors. These data will then be used for potential recommendations regarding helmet use during alpine winter sports.

The PubMed, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE databases were searched using the search string helmet OR head protective devices AND (skiing OR snowboarding OR skier OR snowboarder) for articles on human participants of all ages published between January 1980 and April 2011. The search yielded 83, 0, and 96 results in PubMed, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE, respectively. Studies published in English describing the analysis of original data on helmet use in relation to outcomes of interest, including death, head injury, severity of head injury, neck or cervical spine injury, and risk compensation behavior, were selected. Sixteen published studies met a priori inclusion criteria and were reviewed in detail by authors.

Level I recommendation is that all recreational skiers and snowboarders should wear safety helmets to reduce the incidence and severity of head injury during these sports. Level II recommendation/observation is that helmets do not seem to increase risk compensation behavior, neck injuries, or cervical spine injuries among skiers and snowboarders. Policies and interventions to increase helmet use should be promoted to reduce mortality and head injury among skiers and snowboarders.

Safety helmets clearly decrease the risk and severity of head injuries in skiing and snowboarding and do not seem to increase the risk of neck injury, cervical spine injury, or risk compensation behavior. Helmets are strongly recommended during recreational skiing and snowboarding.

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    • "Extensive investigation into helmet use and prevention of TBI among skiers/snowboarders has been conducted over the years. This has recently prompted a practice management guideline established by the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma which recommends the use of safety helmets to reduce the severity and incidence of head injuries during these activities [9]. In light of the similarities between snowboarding and longboarding and their resulting head injuries, this same recommendation may correspond to longboarding, though further research is indicated. "
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    ABSTRACT: As the popularity of longboarding increases, trauma centers are treating an increased number of high severity injuries. Current literature lacks descriptions of the types of injuries experienced by longboarders, a distinct subset of the skateboarding culture. A retrospective review of longboarding and skateboarding injury cases was conducted at a level II trauma center from January 1, 2006, through December 31, 2011. Specific injuries in addition to high injury severity factors (hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS), Injury Severity Score (ISS), patient treatment options, disposition, and outcome) were calculated to compare longboarder to skateboarder injuries. A total of 824 patients met the inclusion criteria. Skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) were significantly more common among longboard patients than skateboarders (P < 0.0001). All patients with an ISS above 15 were longboarders. Hospital and ICU LOS in days was also significantly greater for longboarders compared with skateboarders (P < 0.0001). Of the three patients that died, each was a longboarder and each experienced a head injury. Longboard injuries account for a higher incidence rate of severe head injuries compared to skateboard injuries. Our data show that further, prospective investigation into the longboarding population demographics and injury patterns is necessary to contribute to effective injury prevention in this population.
    02/2014; 2014:924381. DOI:10.1155/2014/924381
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    - XX Congress of the International Society for Skiing Safety, in association with the International Society for Traumatology and Winter Sports Medicine, San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.; 08/2013
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Hospital mortality has decreased over time for critically ill patients with various forms of brain injury. We hypothesized that the proportion of patients who progress to neurologic death may have also decreased. Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study involving consecutive adult patients with traumatic brain injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage or anoxic brain injury admitted to regional intensive care units in southern Alberta over a 10.5-year period. We used multivariable logistic regression to adjust for patient age and score on the Glasgow Coma Scale at admission, and to assess whether the proportion of patients who progress to neurologic death has changed over time. Results: The cohort consisted of 2788 patients. The proportion of patients who progressed to neurologic death was 8.1% at the start of the study period, and the adjusted odds of progressing to neurologic death decreased over the study period (odds ratio [OR] per yr 0.92, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.87-0.98, p = 0.006). This change was most pronounced among patients with traumatic brain injury (OR per yr 0.87, 95% CI 0.78-0.96, p = 0.005); there was no change among patients with anoxic injury (OR per yr 0.96, 95% CI 0.85-1.09, p = 0.6). A review of the medical records suggests that missed cases of neurologic death were rare (≤ 0.5% of deaths). Interpretation: The proportion of patients with brain injury who progress to neurologic death has decreased over time, especially among those with head trauma. This finding may reflect positive developments in the prevention and care of brain injury. However, organ donation after neurologic death represents the major source of organs for transplantation. Thus, these findings may help explain the relatively stagnant rates of deceased organ donation in some regions of Canada, which in turn has important implications for the care of patients with end-stage organ failure.
    Canadian Medical Association Journal 10/2013; 185(18). DOI:10.1503/cmaj.130271 · 5.96 Impact Factor
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