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Background: The extent to which helmet use reduces the risk of injury in ski- and snowboard-related accidents is unclear. We studied the association of helmet use with injuries of the head, face, and neck among skiers and snowboarders involved in falls and collisions.

Methods: We conducted a case-control study, using ski patrol injury reports for the years 2000-2005 from 3 ski resorts in the western United States. We identified all skiers and snowboarders involved in falls or collisions who received care from the ski patrol. Helmet use among persons with injuries of the head (n = 2537), face (n = 1122), or neck (n = 565) was compared with helmet use among those involved in falls and collisions who received care for injuries below the neck (n = 17,674). We calculated odds ratios for head, face, and neck injury among helmeted compared with unhelmeted persons.

Results: The adjusted odds ratios were 0.85 for head injury (95% confidence interval = 0.76-0.95), 0.93 for facial injury (0.79-1.09), and 0.91 for neck injury (0.72-1.14).

Conclusions: Helmets may provide some protection from head injury among skiers and snowboarders involved in falls or collisions.

(C) 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.