The question if wearing helmets when skiing is necessary has been quite a debate one. The ability of ski helmets to prevent head injuries and even save one's life is sometimes questioned by sportsmen. So, should the ski helmets be mandatory?
There are various viewpoints on this subject, and here are the arguments that are worth to be taken into consideration.
Research data published in the British Medical Journal showed that wearing ski helmets reduced head injuries by 35% in adults and 59% in children under 13.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends wearing helmets to protect yourself from injury. The National Ski Patrol share this opinion. However, according to them, helmets offer considerably less protection for serious head injury to snow riders traveling more than 12-14 mph. In this case helmets provide a second line of defense against head injuries, while conscientious skiing is considered the most important factor to injury prevent.
There is also an opposite position regarding whether wearing a helmet decreases the risk of head injury among skiers and snowboarders. Jasper Shealey (a New York professor who has published more than 80 technical papers dealing with various aspects of ski injury research) suggests that helmets may give skiers a sense of added security causing them to ramp up their risk taking behavior on the ski hill. Helmets encourage us to ski faster and in more dangerous places.
Dr. Mike Langran, a ski patrol doctor and member of the International Society for Skiing Safety shares this opinion. “There is evidence that helmets may in fact promote a false sense of security – a higher percentage of those who wear helmets travel faster and admit to taking risks than those who do not,” he says.
Dave Byrd, Director of Education and Risk at NSAA (the National Ski Areas Association), explains that helmets often cannot prevent serious head injuries in violent crashes. Most helmets are designed for speeds of 14 mph or less, but skiers tend to travel between 25 and 40 mph.
After all being said, skiers and snowboarders should take advantage of using all available safety equipment, including helmets. Even though ski helmets have some limitations in terms of protection, they can still diminish the severity of potential accident. It’s sensible to protect your head at all times. Protective head gear doesn't produce much discomfort after all. Helmets, especially the modern ones, are warm, and have fairly good sound transference. In such helmet, one can hear and feel perfectly well.