Monday, November 28, 2005

Headgear

Ok - so maybe I was out to lunch with my ideas about a soft society. How about this one ... my thoughts on headgear. I have to admit that I am actually pretty mixed on this one. I guess I see both sides.

This all started with my last trip to Sportmart (now Sports Authority). As you walk in, there on the right side where they put the seasonal sports gear was their snow skis, snowboards, boots and of course helmets. I stopped to look at them and they are actually pretty cool. Kind of like skateboarding helmets, but they look way more comfortable. There are awesome colors including camo.

But my first thought was - are we over the edge. Are there enough accidents to warrant helmets? I never wore a helmet. I don't remember hitting my head when I crashed - and it isn't like I never crashed. I have seen a number of people brought down the hill on stretchers, but it always appeared that they had leg problems, not head injuries. So I did a bit of web searching and found a site that has some interesting statistics. This data doesn't support the need for helmets. It does point out that there is a real need for wrist braces when you snowboard, but that isn't the topic!

I did find a site that has some data around head injuries. It even describes the kind of injuries that occur, and it does appear that a helmet would help with these.

But this is about headgear not helmets for snow skiing or boarding. There are a number of different types of headgear to consider. Here are some examples.
  • Football - most people would agree that helmets are a good thing. But what if they continued to wear leather helmets rather than the helmets of today. Would there be more or less injuries. I firmly believe that there are harder hits today than in the past because of all of the body armor that is worn today.
  • Rugby - the players don't wear helmets. Would there be fewer injuries if they did? I suspect that there would not since they would hit each other harder. But what about headgear to protect concussions or just their ears. Seems like this would be a good idea. There appears to be a raging debate on this very topic. Maybe it helps with cauliflower ear?
  • Biking - well, I have to admit that after taking a really hard fall on my mountain bike where I launched over the handlebars, flew head first into the dirt, and woke up with my bike a ways away from me, I am sold! I would never ride a bike without a helmet and am amazed at how many people ride on the road without one.
  • Wrestling - we are making Nick wear headgear when he wrestles. This is to protect his ears not so much his head. Seems like a good idea to me.
  • Soccer - this is the latest rage. Headgear for soccer players. To protect from concussion. The data on all of this seems pretty limited. The topic is new and decisions to use headgear appear to be based on a study in Norway around heading the ball. This debate continues as well.
I did find one interesting article on the whole subject. Take a look. Their thoughts are not all that different from mine:)

One last interesting data point. I was talking about headgear to a senior who both bikes and snow skis. He said that he of course wears a bike helmet but what was a surprise to me is that he also wears a helmet when he skis. He said that it is because at this point in his life, he wants to enjoy what he has left and doesn't want an accident to screw that up!

So I am pretty mixed on all of this. Where do you draw the line?

3 comments:

Julie said...

Well I'll comment on this one too... Just this weekend we sent Anthony off to Snowboard with the Boyscouts. I went with him to rent his gear...so of course I asked about helmets. It was only $5 extra for a helmet. I said I was renting him one. He didn't really want to wear it. I was surprised because he is such an advocate for bike helmets. He just didn't want to look different than other people, didn't really have much concern for his crashing. I told him I was going to rent it either way, and he could decide when he got there what to do. He hates it when I do that...give him the choice. It is always harder for him, but it works! Besides the people at the rental place said all the snowboarders wear them now...it makes you look like you're faster!

Anth said...

First off mom the fact that the helmet makes you look faster is complete B.S. because it just makes you look like you're wearing a helmet. You were right about on thing though it is always harder when I am given the choice as to wether or not I will dicide to do something.

(It's unfair that you can predict what I will think to a point that you can make it seem like you are giving me an option but we both know exectly what I was going to do.)

On a completely separate issue when I got up to dodge ridge I was interested to notice that though many people wore helmets it was the people who were themost inexperienced that seemed the group of people who had the least percentage of helmets. this surprised me because I would have thought it would be the newbies that would want all of the potection and the veterans would be the ones going without because they had done it so long without one. Seeing this led me to believe that it was actually a good idea to wear the helmet and the people who don't ski or snowboard much were the people who hadn't heard of all of the accidents the regulars would have. Wow that was a long sentence. Any ways this made me think twice about my previous opinions of wearing a helmet and in the end decided it was okay because it looked better with goggles on and it did double duty as a beanie to keep my head warm. So finally after all of that I think it is worth it to wear helmets.

Dale said...

I think it is all just brainwashing:) How many head injuries are there that would be helped with a helmet? The data that I could find is that there have not been all that many. It would be interesting to compare the number of head injuries skiing or snow boarding with jogging or playing frisbee or maybe watching a sporting event (Hockey). Maybe we need to wear helmets all of the time. Or maybe just in the winter when it is cold to keep our heads warm. And maybe we should wear them while driving - I bet that even with seat belts and air bags, there are still head injuries:)