A human factors approach to snowsport safety: Novel research on pediatric participants' behaviors and head injury risk

Tracey DICKSON, Stephen TRATHEN, Gordon WADDINGTON, F. Anne Terwiel, Daniel Baltis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: This study applied a human factors approach to snowsport resort systems to contribute to the understanding of the incidence and severity of pediatric snowsport head accelerations. Background: Previous research indicates low magnitude head accelerations are common among snowsport participants. This study adds to the knowledge of snowsport safety by measuring aspects of participants' snowsport behavior and linking this with head acceleration data. Method: School-aged students (n = 107) wore telemetry-fitted helmets and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices during snowsport activity. Data was collected over 159 sessions (total hours 701). Head accelerations recorded by the telemetry units were compared with GPS-generated data. Results: This study found speeds attained normally exceed the testing rating for which helmets are designed; lower rates of head accelerations compared to earlier studies and that when head accelerations did occur they were generally below the threshold for concussions. Conclusion: Pediatric snowsport head accelerations are rare and are generally of low magnitude. Those most at risk of a head acceleration >40 g were male snowboarders. Given the recorded speeds in first time participants, increased targeting of novice snowsport participants to encourage education about the use of protective equipment, including helmets, is warranted. Post event recall was not a good indicator of having experienced a head impact. Consideration should be given to raising the standard design speed testing for snowsport helmet protective devices to reflect actual snowsport behaviors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)79-86
    Number of pages8
    JournalApplied Ergonomics
    Issue numberA
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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