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Study supports use of ski helmets for children

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Young skiers and snowboarders who wear helmets tend to have less severe injuries if they have an accident, according to research published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery.

The study found that children and young people who wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding sustain less severe head injuries and lower overall injury severity, compared to those who do not wear a helmet.

Led by Dr Steven Moulton, medical director of the trauma programme at Children’s Hospital Colorado, researchers analysed 16 years of level I paediatric trauma centre data from the hospital, including children aged 3-17 years who sustained an injury while skiing or snowboarding. A total of 549 children sustained snow sport related injuries during the 16-year study period.

Those wearing a helmet and admitted to the intensive care unit had significantly lower scores for abbreviated injury severity (AIS) and injury severity score (ISS) than those who were not wearing a helmet at the time of injury.

In addition to proving the benefits of helmet use, the also study revealed that young Colorado residents were nearly twice as likely to be wearing a helmet at the time of injury, compared to visitors from out-of-state — suggesting that Colorado residents have a better understanding of the benefits of helmet usage.

“Many Colorado parents may not view these findings as a surprise,” Dr Moulton said. “It is imperative, however, that we broaden the conversation so that parents who encourage their children to ski or snowboard know that wearing a helmet is protective, but does not excuse recklessness. Parents must teach their kids to enjoy snow sports within their own safety limits. Wearing a helmet lowers the risk of sustaining a serious head injury — but does not prevent other serious bodily injury.”