Introduction Head injuries represent a concern in skiing and snowboarding, with traumatic brain injuries being the most common cause of death. Aim To describe the mechanisms of head and face injuries among World Cup alpine and freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Methods We performed a qualitative analysis of videos obtained of head and face injuries reported through the International Ski Federation Injury Surveillance System during 10 World Cup seasons (2006-2016). We analysed 57 head impact injury videos (alpine n=29, snowboard n=13, freestyle n=15), first independently and subsequently in a consensus meeting. Results During the crash sequence, most athletes (84%) impacted the snow with the skis or board first, followed by the upper or lower extremities, buttocks/pelvis, back and, finally, the head. Alpine skiers had sideways (45%) and backwards pitching falls (35%), with impacts to the rear (38%) and side (35%) of the helmet. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders had backwards pitching falls (snowboard 77%, freestyle 53%), mainly with impacts to the rear of the helmet (snowboard 69%, freestyle 40%). There were three helmet ejections among alpine skiers (10% of cases), and 41% of alpine skiing injuries occurred due to inappropriate gate contact prior to falling. Athletes had one (47%) or two (28%) head impacts, and the first impact was the most severe (71%). Head impacts were mainly on snow (83%) on a downward slope (63%). Conclusion This study has identified several characteristics of the mechanisms of head injuries, which may be addressed to reduce risk.
Aim To critically review the evidence to determine the efficacy and effectiveness of protective equipment, rule changes, neck strength and legislation in reducing sport concussion risk. Methods Electronic databases, grey literature and bibliographies were used to search the evidence using Medical Subject Headings and text words. Inclusion/ exclusion criteria were used to select articles for the clinical equipment studies. The quality of evidence was assessed using epidemiological criteria regarding internal/external validity (eg, strength of design, sample size/power, bias and confounding). Results No new valid, conclusive evidence was provided to suggest the use of headgear in rugby, or mouth guards in American football, significantly reduced players' risk of concussion. No evidence was provided to suggest an association between neck strength increases and concussion risk reduction. There was evidence in ice hockey to suggest fair-play rules and eliminating body checking among 11-years-olds to 12-years-olds were effective injury prevention strategies. Evidence is lacking on the effects of legislation on concussion prevention. Equipment self-selection bias was a common limitation, as was the lack of measurement and control for potential confounding variables. Lastly, helmets need to be able to protect from impacts resulting in a head change in velocities of up to 10 and 7 m/s in professional American and Australian football, respectively, as well as reduce head resultant linear and angular acceleration to below 50 g and 1500 rad/s2, respectively, to optimise their effectiveness. Conclusions A multifactorial approach is needed for concussion prevention. Future well-designed and sportspecific prospective analytical studies of sufficient power are warranted.