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Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Unintentional Injuries

Case-control Study of Head Injury in Relation to Ski Helmet Use

FOA Number: CE04-048: Research Grants to Prevent Unintentional Injuries
Project Period: 8/1/04–7/31/07
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000221-01
Principal Investigator: Beth A. Mueller, PhD
University of Washington
Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center
325 9th Avenue, Box 359960
Seattle, WA 98104-2499
Phone: 206-521-1545
Fax: 206-521-1562


Description: This case-control study will investigate the extent to which the use of ski helmets is associated with a reduction in head injury occurrence among individuals who have sustained falls or collisions while skiing or snowboarding. Existing data for all individuals with Ski Patrol-attended injuries as a result of these events will be accessed from Ski Patrol Incident Report Forms from four ski resorts in the two western United States for the years 2001–2005 (four ski seasons). These data, collected for all Ski Patrol-attended injuries and illnesses using a generally standardized form, include information about the injury (body part and injury type), injury event (fall, collision with skier, collision with object, etc.), type of equipment (ski, snowboard, etc.), and helmet use. Other information available to evaluate possible confounding, or to identify subgroups who may benefit most from helmet use, includes age, gender, skier ability, snow conditions, skier skill level and experience, trail rating/location (beginner, advanced, off-trail, etc.), presence of other medical conditions or prior injury, and indicators of injury severity (whether air-lift required, ambulance, returned to skiing, etc.). Cases will be all persons with head injuries (with or without brain injury indicated by the presence of concussion or other indicators of brain injury). Controls will be identified from among the remaining individuals with Ski Patrol-attended injuries sustained as a result of a fall or collision and will consist of persons with injuries below the neck only. Using multivariable methods, helmet use at the time of the fall or collision will be compared among cases and controls to measure the association of ski helmet use with head injury occurrence, and with the occurrence of brain injury. The extent to which any helmet-injury association differs among skiers and snowboarders, or by age group, will also be examined. Results of this study are important to inform skiing and snow safety campaigns aimed at reducing these recreational injuries.