Epidemiology: Prevention Research

Head Injury in Relation to Ski Helmet Use

Key Investigators: Beth Mueller, D.P.H.
University of Washington Department of Epidemiology
Funding Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (HIPRC Center Grant)

Approximately 600,000 ski- and snowboard-related injuries are reported annually in the U.S., a number that has been increasing due to the growing popularity of snowboarding. It is estimated that up to 15 percent of these are head injuries, accounting for the majority of related deaths. Given that helmet use significantly decreases the risk of serious head injury among bicyclists, the use of ski helmets may similarly prevent serious brain injuries and deaths. Because the extent to which ski helmets may reduce head injury occurrence among skiers and snowboarders is currently unknown, an accurate estimate of helmet effectiveness is critically important for the development and implementation of any intervention campaigns. The investigators will conduct a case-control study to investigate the relationship of ski helmet use and head injury occurrence among skiers and snowboarders involved in falls or collisions. They will use National Ski Patrol data from several ski areas to measure the association of ski helmet use with head injury occurrence, and with the occurrence of brain injury; and investigate the extent to which any helmet-injury association differs among skiers and snowboarders, or by age group.