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Helmet rental practices at United States ski areas: a national survey
  1. J M Clingenpeel1,
  2. S W Marshall2
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
  2. 2Departments of Epidemiology and Orthopedics, University of North Carolina School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Joel M Clingenpeel
 Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, 703 Oxford House, Nashville, TN 37232-4700, USA;


Objectives: Studies have shown that head injuries are the leading cause of death on ski slopes. Statistics on helmet rental practices at ski areas across the United States have never been reported. This study sought to determine the prevalence of United States ski areas offering helmet rental during the 2002–03 ski season. Secondarily it sought to analyze the relationships of geographic region and size of ski area with helmet rental availability and to gather information on ski helmet rental cost to the consumer.

Methods and setting: A stratified cross sectional telephone survey of a sample of 331 United States ski area onsite rental shops during February 2003.

Results: Altogether 50% of ski areas offered helmet rental with significant variation in the prevalence of helmet rental among ski areas of differing regions and sizes (p<0.01). A majority of Northeastern (57%), Western (63%), and Rocky Mountain (71%) ski areas rented helmets, whereas a minority of Southern (37%) and Midwestern (23%) ski areas rented helmets. Twenty five percent of the smallest ski areas (⩽50 acres) rented helmets compared with 74% of the largest ski areas (⩾501 acres).

Conclusions: United States ski area helmet rental practices vary by region of the country and ski area size. Winter sports participants interested in wearing protective headgear should be aware of the helmet rental practices at the ski area in which they plan to visit and consider helmet purchase if they visit mainly smaller ski areas or areas within the South or Midwest.

  • skiing
  • snowboarding
  • traumatic brain injury
  • head injury
  • helmets

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