Headlines about Canada ski injuries is very misleading.

Actual report does not take into account participants and uses skiing just to get press, not because it is the worst sport.

This study, when you read the headline implies one idea: Skiing is dangerous. When you read the article, you get a completely reverse opinion of what the study reports. More importantly, the study is being used for an agenda rather than a way to either reduce or study injuries.

The study looked at winter sports injuries in Canada. It is a simple study showing how many hospital visits occurred each winter based on various activities. From the study, the headlines looked at these two groups of numbers.

        Slopes-Related Injuries                                 2,300

        Hockey Players                                           1,114

The headline then stated that slope injuries were twice as dangerous as hockey. Right off the bat, though you see an issue. This is just a total number of hospital visits. It means nothing, unless you know how many people participated in the sport or how many hour’s participants spent on the sport. Unless, and it very well may be possible, the number of people skiing and boarding in Canada equaled the number of people playing hockey, then the numbers really don’t point to anything. The numbers definitely do not point out that skiing and boarding is twice as dangerous as hockey.

After some more reading, more numbers pop to the surface.

        Snowmobiling                                             1,126

        Ice Skating                                                 889

        Tobogganing                                               171

Snowmobiling creates more hospital stays than hockey. However, hockey is the measurement that the criteria are compared to. Is this because everyone in Canada understands the real risks of hockey? Or is hockey perceived as a dangerous sport.

If the cause for the headline is the latter, then the headline was just made to get your attention. Snowmobiling is half as dangerous as skiing and riding so why was snowmobiling not used as the comparison.

Then the bomb shell drops.  All of these sports combined do not make up 10% of the other winter sports injuries.

However, the hospitalization numbers pale in comparison to people who were simply injured by winter activities.

In Ontario alone, the report says, there were more than 45,000 emergency department visits — 285 a day — due to winter activities in 2010-2011.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Fortin says, given that many of the hurt would have visited family doctors, walk-in clinics or just suffered through their injuries.

If you dig through the article, you gather these stats.

Slopes-Related Injuries (Skiing/Boarding)

2,300

Snowmobiling

1,126

Hockey Players

1,114

Ice Skating

889

Tobogganing

171

Total

5,600

5600 injuries in five sports nationwide are nothing compared to 45000 in just one city alone. Twenty days in Ontario and those injuries exceed the ones the false headline was blaring about.

There were some relevant points that could be pulled from the report.

1.   Injuries remained relatively constant over the five years of the report for all five sports.

a.   However, this number still has more value if compared to the overall number of participants. If participating went up or down that changes the fact the injuries were constant.

2.   The age group with the largest number of injuries was young males between the ages of 10 and 19.

3.   33% of the head injuries in all five sports came from skiing and snowboarding.

a.   There were 759 head injuries over the past five years on the slopes showing a decrease in head injuries…. Maybe.

So? Think

You cannot take headlines at face value. EVEN MINE! Headlines get you to read the article, and that is their sole purposes. You have to understand what the article is trying to say, where the information that makes up the article comes from and maybe, what is the writer trying to accomplish.

See Skiing injuries lead to twice as many hospital stays as hockey, new data shows

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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A new idea that makes sense in helmets: the Bern Hard Hat

Many people have heard my comments on helmets for the outdoor recreation industry. Very few helmets, if any, are fitted properly, worn properly or used properly. Many helmets are used in ways that increase the risk or are worthless because head injuries do not occur in the sport.

Examples are studies from Ski-Injury.com that showed helmets are only effective in skiing for slow injuries1,2 and that head injuries only represent 10-20% of all skiing injuries3 in one study and only 2 to 8% in another.4 For males between the ages of the late teens to their early thirties a helmet will not affect the mortality rate.5 Helmets do reduce head injuries.6 Several studies have shown the most important aspect of wearing a helmet on the slopes is to protect your head from being hit by a chairlift or lift if you fall down.7

The other argument with helmets is the issues of risk homeostasis or risk compensation. This theory states that the safer you feel, the more likely you are to increase your risk. Wearing a helmet will subsequently increase your risk of an accident because you feel safer with the helmet.8,9 Consequently injuries among skiers are highest among those that are wearing helmets.10

One place a helmet may make a difference is the courtroom. Judges and appellate courts invariably comment about whether the plaintiff in a lawsuit was wearing a helmet when the plaintiff suffered a head injury.

At the same time, helmets in some activities are needed. For skiing, if you recognize the possible risk homeostasis issues, buy a helmet that fits properly, properly wear the helmet and throw the helmet away if you have a major impact, they will prevent head injuries, not death, but injuries. Throw the helmet away? Yes!

Helmets come with disclaimers that say they should be discarded and destroyed if they suffer a major impact. This is because 99% of the helmets sold for most sports are sold with a plastic or other hard shell surrounding an EPS liner. The protection afforded by the helmet is combination of the shell and the liner. EPS is that hard foam under the soft padding that gives the helmet its protection. Because of the way the EPS and shell are molded together, cracks in the EPS are rarely visible from the inside. Moreover if there is a liner glued to the EPS. The EPS is difficult to remove from the shell and doing so ruins the helmet. Once a crack occurs in the EPS the structural integrity of the helmet is compromised and the helmet should be discarded.

Bern has come up with a slightly different approach to this problem. They have helmets, which they call Hard Hats that are lined with Brock foam.11 This foam is a multi-impact liner that allows the user to experience several if not dozens of impacts without having to replace the hard hat. Besides the foam is soft and very comfortable to wear, breathable and allows air to circulate as well as wicking.

The problem is the foam does not meet the current standards to receive ASTM or EN approval. So technically it is not a helmet but a hard hat. The buyer is faced with a decision to buy a helmet that does not provided the protection that an EPS lined helmet does or to buy a helmet that provides less protection, but more protection for the injuries helmets do really protect the wearer from. A real catch 22 for the buyer, but one worth studying. Bern offers all its helmets with Brock Foam with EPS if you like the style, but want different protection.

You can take a lot of falls. The choice is up to you, measured better protection at an minute amount for a small percentage of risk or a helmet that can take a beating, protect you head and last longer than one trip to the slopes.

1 Helmets on the slopes….Heads you win?

2 A summary of the research presented at the 16th International Symposium of the ISSS held in at Mount Arai, Japan in April 2005.

3 Helmets on the slopes….Heads you win?

4 BackTalk; Helmets Do Not Make The Ski Slopes Safer

5 Shealy research sheds light on helmet use

6 Helmet Safety, Standards and Design

7 Alpine Ski Injuries

8 Risk Compensation & Helmet Wearing. June 2001

9 Helmets

10 BackTalk; Helmets Do Not Make The Ski Slopes Safer

11 Bern Catalog

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