Features & Images » Feature Story

In helmets we trust?

Part 2 of Pique's concussion feature



Page 2 of 7

They do, however, prevent other head injuries, as well as facial injuries.

That's why when she recovered from her six-month debilitating concussion, Glenday bought the best helmet she could find for mountain biking and the best helmet she could find for skiing.

Unwilling to live life in a cocoon of fear and terrified about getting another concussion, this was the only thing she could do to protect herself the best way that she could.

"I didn't even ask how much it cost," Glenday says simply. That's how important it is for her to protect her head.

Straight from the horse's mouth as it were, the world's experts on concussions from their latest meeting in Zurich in November issued this as part of their latest consensus statement:

"There is no good clinical evidence that currently available protective equipment will prevent concussion... Biomechanical studies have shown a reduction in impact forces to the brain with the use of head gear and helmets, but these findings have not been translated to show a reduction in concussion incidence.

"For skiing and snowboarding, there are a number of studies to suggest that helmets provide protection against head and facial injury and hence should be recommended for participants in alpine sports."

That's the same message Dr. Pat Bishop has been trying to send for the past decade.

Bishop is a retired professor at the University of Waterloo and his specific area of research is around helmet use.

"People think because you get concussions wearing helmets that the helmets aren't doing the job that they're intended to, which is so far from the truth that it's unbelievable," he says. "They are doing the job that they were intended to... If you're wearing a helmet your chance of survival is way higher than if you didn't have a helmet on. And so, they do the job. They prevent those lethal focal head injuries (injuries localized to one region of the head such as a skull fracture or a brain bleed)."

Gregor Wilson, who has been skiing since he could walk, knows this only too well.

He had one of the hardest wipeouts of his life this year on a 40 centimetre powder day. He presumes he hit some ice underneath or a rock.

He hit the ground so hard there was a hole through the back of his helmet.

Had it not been for the helmet Wilson says the fall would have undoubtedly cracked his skull.

"I've been pro helmets for a long time," he says.

That's why.

When he put his helmet out of commission for good, Wilson was ripping it up at Ski Wentworth in Nova Scotia, where helmets for skiing and snowboarding are now required by the law as of this year. He has since bought another one.

Add a comment