Wearing an integral helmet, which fully protects the head, including the face, can avoid serious trauma and save the lives of skiers when they suffer an accident. A study just published by the University of Innsbruck, Austria, has shown that head injuries are behind most of the deaths that occur during skiing.
The study analyzed data from 207 fatal accidents, which had occurred over five years, and observed that falls (41 per cent), the impact against stones or devices of the sports facilities themselves, such as the columns that support the chairlifts, for example, (35 per cent), and the collision with another skier (18 per cent), were the main causes of the accidents, and that almost half of the dead (46 per cent) died as a result of trauma to the head.
The fact that more and more people are keen on white sport, and that many young people, generally with more reckless behaviour, opt for snowboarding, a sport in which the ability to brake is more limited and therefore easier to collide with other users, has increased the number of accidents.
For this reason, specialists from the Spanish Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (SECOM) advise all those who are going to slide on the tracks to protect themselves adequately to minimize the consequences of a possible accident. In the opinion of the president of the Catalan-Balearic Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Dr Joan Birbe, wearing a full-face helmet, or a conventional helmet with a splint similar to those worn by American football players, up to 60% of the serious facial injuries suffered by skiers during a collision could be prevented. The specialist insists on the importance of protecting the face as well because injuries to the jaw are often severe and could leave sequels.
The president of SECOM, Dr Arturo Bilbao, warns that extreme precautions should be taken when dealing with children. Recent research published in Sportverletz Sportschaden, a German sports medicine journal, has shown that the best way to prevent school-age skiers from suffering injuries is to do prior training that includes a good warm-up and wearing a helmet. In this regard, the Tourist Association of Ski and Mountain Resorts (ATUDEM) recalls that it is compulsory for children to wear helmets and that, in the case of adults, it is highly recommended.