Will Your Helmet Prevent a Traumatic Brain Injury During a Winter Sports Accident?

The death of freestyle skier Sarah Burke after sustaining a traumatic brain injury during a training accident is once again raising questions about the dangers that can arise when someone is moving swiftly through snow or ice and is involved in an accident. Granted, while freestyle skiing tends is a lot more high-risk than other sports, there are dangers involved in regular skiing, ice hockey, speed skating, sledding, snowboarding, and tobogganing. The question is, how much does protective gear and clothing actually protect people from catastrophic injuries?
Discovery.com reports that some studies show that while boots, helmets, bindings, and other safety gear do decrease the risk of serious injuries, these products have their limits. There are even products, such as the wrist guards used by snowboarders, that don’t offer any actual benefits. A person that is wearing them may even be worse off in certain accidents.
Also, despite the fact that manufacturers are continuing to develop new protective gear, the rate of snow sport deaths hasn’t declined in 40 years. Granted, skiiers that don’t use helmets are more likely to die from a head injury, but there are also helmet users that are dying from trauma sustained by the body as a result of high-speed impact during a fall or from colliding into a tree. Also, a helmet doesn’t provide protection from spinal cord injuries.
In a study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics last week, simulated tobogganing crash tests done on helmets to test for side and front impacts at varying meters/second found that bicycle helmets offered the most protection at the highest velocity. Ice hockey helmets were best able to offer protection at lower velocities. Alpine helmets provided the worst protection of all three helmet types during both high and low impacts. However, at over impacts of 4 meters/second, all helmets exhibited damage to the inner liner and cracks.
It is important that all safety equipment warn of any risks involved when using a product. Manufacturers must also make sure not to market safety gear to make it appear as if it provides more protection than what is actually does. Safety equipment and clothing should also be free of defects that could cause it to malfunction and/or not provide the protection it is supposed to give the wearer.
Our products liability lawyers represent both children and clients that have sustained traumatic brain injuries in incidents involving defective products and other catastrophic accidents. Contact The Gilbert Law Group® today to schedule your free case evaluation.
Helmets vary in offering protection for winter sports and play, Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2012
Sarah Burke, Freestyle Skier, Dies From Injuries in Training, New York Times, January 19, 2012
Sarah Burke’s Death: Can Gear Keep Up with Skiers?, DiscoveryNews, January 13, 2012
Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
More Blog Posts:
Head Injury Risk Prompts Triple Eight Distribution to Recall 30,400 Bicycle Helmets for Kids, Product Liability Law Blog, January 6, 2012
Do Toning Shoes Cause Foot Injuries?, Product Liability Law Blog, June 8, 2011
Defective Clothing Can Cause Serious Injuries, Product Liability Law Blog, June 19, 2008

Our traumatic brain injury attorneys know the kind of toll that living with a TBI can have on the victim and loved ones. You may be able to hold the parties responsible for the injury liable.


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