Here’s some perplexing research: A new study found that there was a rise in skiing and snowboarding-related head injuries from 2004 to 2010, even though there was a jump in the number of people who donned helmets during that period.
That’s what ESPN.com reported Tuesday, citing a report given last week in Denver at the American College of Emergency Physicians annual conference. The study was authored by Dr. Mark Christensen, a resident doctor in the emergency medicine department at Western Michigan University.
Christensen admitted to ESPN.com that he thought the study would find a decrease in head injuries to correlate with the increase in helmet use, but the opposite was actually the case. He cautioned that the study’s results are just preliminary, and that he would like to extend the research from just six years to as many as 20 years.
There were 68,761 reports of head injuries by skiers and snowboarders from 2004 to 2012, according to data the study used from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, ESPN.com reported.
The bottom line is that the percent of skiers and snowboarders who suffered head injuries soared from 37 percent to 58 percent during the six years covered by the study, according to ESPN.com.
Christensen had several theories about why helmet use hadn’t made head injuries decrease. Athletes who do the two sports are trying more difficult maneuvers and taking more risks, and more people are reporting head injuries in the wake of all the recent press about concussions, Christensen told ESPN.com.
The researcher stressed that he wasn’t advocating that athletes on the slopes not wear helmets. But he pointed out that helmets are only able stop injuries when the impact is at 12 mph to 15 mph, which means that skiers and snowborders shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security and act reckless, ESPN.com reported.