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Helmets: What do snowsport instructors and guests know and expect?

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Snowsport participants are donning helmets in ever-greater numbers at a time when there is an increasing interest in the long-term impact of repeated concussive and sub-concussive impacts in sport. This interest has been fanned by a wide-reaching media discussion of concussion related to sport injuries, and there have been calls to make helmet use mandatory for snowsport participants. Helmets have been shown to be effective in protecting against lacerations and skull fractures, but there is little evidence that there is a protective effect with regard to concussion. Against that backdrop, the authors were curious as to what snowsport instructors and the general public thinks the risk level of snowsport is, what they believe their helmets will do for them within that risk environment, reasons for helmet use, and whether there is greater knowledge amongst snowsport instructors than the general public. The main reasons for helmet use were linked to safety, while the main reasons for non-helmet use were linked to lack of comfort, reduction in sensory awareness, and a lack of belief in the effectiveness of helmets. Respondents tended to vastly overrate the risk of injury and also to overrate the effectiveness of helmets. There was very little difference in the knowledge level of snowsport instructors and the general public. The snowsport industry would benefit from an education program aimed at both industry professionals and the general public as to the actual risk associated with snowsport participation, and with regard to how effective helmets really are in protecting against concussion.




Terwiel, F. A., & Dickson, T. J. (2015). Helmets: What do snowsport instructors and guests know and expect? In ASTM Special Technical Publication (Vol. STP 1582, pp. 3–21). ASTM International.

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