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Coroner urges skiers to wear helmets

Tue 23 Dec 2014

Headway strongly supports a coroner's call for skiers to wear helmets following an inquest into the death of an experienced skier on the Austrian slopes

West Somerset coroner Michael Rose has urged people heading off on skiing holidays this winter to wear a helmet.

Mr Rose was speaking at the inquest into the death of 23 year-old Aleksander Owens-Thurston, where he recorded a verdict of accidental death. Mr Owens-Thurston suffered a fractured skull in a skiing accident at St Anton in February 2014. The coroner also called for safety improvements at the resort where the boom arm of a snow machine had been left across the ski run that Aleksander was using.

Aleksander, an experienced skier, is believed to have lost control on the slopes and crashed into a snow machine at an Austrian ski resort. He was not wearing a helmet and died shortly after the accident.

Headway strongly supports the coroner's call for all skiers to wear helmets.

Clear evidence

The evidence for helmet use among skiers and snowboarders is clear and supporting research includes:

'The effect of helmets on the risk of head and neck injuries among skiers and snowboarders: a meta-analysis' (2010), Canadian Medical Association Journal
Conclusion: "Helmets are effective in reducing the risk of head injury among skiers and snowboarders."
Click here to view this article.

'An evidence based review: efficacy of safety helmets in the reduction of head injuries in recreational skiers and snowboarders' (2012), National Institutes of Health
Conclusion: "Safety helmets clearly decrease the risk and severity of head injuries in skiing and snowboarding...Helmets are strongly recommended during recreational skiing and snowboarding."
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'Effectiveness of helmets in skiers and snowboarders: case-control and case crossover study'British Medical Journal
Conclusion: "Helmets protect skiers and snowboarders against head injuries."
Click here to view this article.

'The effectiveness of helmet wear in skiers and snowboarders: a systematic review' (2010), British Journal of Sports Medicine
Conclusion: "There is strong evidence to support the protective value of helmets in reducing the risk of head injuries in skiing and snowboarding. There is no good evidence to support the claim that the use of helmets leads to an increase risk of cervical spine injuries or neck injuries."
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'Helmet use and risk of head injuries in alpine skiers and snowboarders' (2005),Journal of the American Medical Association
Conclusion: "Wearing a helmet is associated with reduced risk of head injury among snowboarders and alpine skiers."
Click here to view this article.

Commenting on the coroner's remarks, Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway UK, said: "Headway has been campaigning for skiers and snowboarders to wear a helmet for a number of years.

"We hope that skiers and snowboarders will take careful note of the coroner's comments and take this simple, common-sense step to reduce the risk of death or lifelong disability."

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