Introduction Prior to the 2013/2014 season, the International Ski Federation (FIS) increased the helmet testing speed from 5.4 to 6.8 m/s for alpine downhill, super-G and giant slalom. Whether this increased testing speed reflects head impact velocities in real head injury situations on snow is unclear. We therefore investigated the injury mechanisms and gross head impact biomechanics in seven real head injury situations among World Cup (WC) alpine skiers.
Methods We analysed nine head impacts from seven head injury videos from the FIS Injury Surveillance System, throughout nine WC seasons (2006–2015) in detail. We used commercial video-based motion analysis software to estimate head impact kinematics in two dimensions, including directly preimpact and postimpact, from broadcast video. The sagittal plane angular movement of the head was also measured using angle measurement software.
Results In seven of nine head impacts, the estimated normal to slope preimpact velocity was higher than the current FIS helmet rule of 6.8 m/s (mean 8.1 (±SD 0.6) m/s, range 1.9±0.8 to 12.1±0.4 m/s). The nine head impacts had a mean normal to slope velocity change of 9.3±1.0 m/s, range 5.2±1.1 to 13.5±1.3 m/s. There was a large change in sagittal plane angular velocity (mean 43.3±2.9 rad/s (range 21.2±1.5 to 64.2±3.0 rad/s)) during impact.
Conclusion The estimated normal to slope preimpact velocity was higher than the current FIS helmet rule of 6.8 m/s in seven of nine head impacts.
- alpine skiing
- injury prevention
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Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to all of the following: the conception and design of the study, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and final approval of the version to be submitted.
Funding The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center has been established at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences through generous grants from the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Culture, the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, the International Olympic Committee, the Norwegian Olympic Committee and Confederation of Sport, and Norsk Tipping AS. The FIS Injury Surveillance System is supported by the International Ski Federation and was established through a generous grant from DJO.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.
Ethics approval The study was reviewed by the Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics, South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, Norway.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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