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Sunday 27th May 2018

Ski helmet debate after Natasha Richardson's death

24th March 2009

The death of Natasha Richardson while skiing in Quebec has ignited discussion over whether it should be compulsory for people who ski and snowboard to wear helmets.


The BBC has reported that the amount of people skiing and snowboarding wearing helmets has sharply increased. A winter sports retailer said they had sold 15% more helmets this season.

Some resorts enforce the wearing of head protection for younger skiers and snowboarders. Children must wear helmets in Italy and Austria.

The BBC also reported that the Sports Minister for Quebec said earlier in the winter that they were going to make a decision on whether wearing head protection should be made mandatory next winter.

Richardson, who was 45, suffered a fall and blow to her head at a nursery slope at Mont Trembant Ski Resort.

The management of the resort said Richardson had been seen by a doctor after her fall but decided to return to her hotel.  She felt unwell and was taken to a local hospital and then to one in Montreal. She was then flown to a New York hospital, where she died.

The death of the actress has caused discussion in the USA and Canada.

Dr A Stewart Levy, who is chief of neurosurgery and neurotrauma at St Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, Colorado, has given away 1,000 free safety helmets since 1997.

Dr Levy's unpublished research has found that wearing head protection can reduce the danger of brain injury by 75%.

Levy said that a skier had to wear a helmet and also know how to ski in a responsible way.

"A helmet is not a license to ski recklessly," he told CNN.

The National Ski Areas Association Survey of 2008 found an increase in helmet-wearing in skiers and snowboarders in the USA. The figure rose from a quarter in 2003 to 43% in 2008.


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