The skiing accident that left Formula One legend Michael Schumacher in a coma last weekend has reignited debate over why serious head injuries are rising among skiers and snowboarders even as helmet use has grown dramatically.
A lengthy New York Times article that appeared Dec. 31 cited a 2012 study from Western Michigan University School of Medicine of head injuries among skiers and snowboarders in the United States that found the number of such injuries had increase 60 percent to nearly 15,000 from 2004 to 2010 even as helmet usage grew by about the same amount. Sales of ski and snowboard helmets reached $87 million during the 2010/11 winter season, up 86 percent from four years earlier, SIA research shows.
“Experts agree that the roots of the trend are complicated and could be related to increased awareness about brain injuries and reporting of them,” reports the Times. “But they also agreed on one element underpinning the trend: an increase in risk-taking behaviors that they said the snow-sports industry had embraced. In recent years, many resorts have built bigger features in their terrain parks and improved access to more extreme terrain. At the same time, advances in equipment have made it easier to ski faster, perform tricks and venture out of bounds.”