22nd Congress of the International Society for Skiing Safety (ISSS)

Research proves Helmets reduce head injuries
Research proves helmets reduce head injuries

Innsbruck April 2017

By Dave Renouf


The International Society of Skiing Safety exists to bring together researchers and other interested parties from around the world to discuss and advance all aspects of snow sports safety.”

“The Ski Trauma and Ski Safety Congresses held by the ISSS every two years have brought together a wide variety of individuals interested in all aspects of skiing safety.”

BASI is a member of the ISSS and Dave Renouf, BASI’s International and Educational Development Manager attended this latest congress. It was hosted by Prof. Dr. Werner Nachbauer of the Department of Sport Science, University of Innsbruck, Austria, and the event sponsored by Head/Tyrolia.  Contributions came from research scientists and medical doctors based in snowsports resorts world-wide.

During the week long congress, there were around 100 presentations of approximately 20 minutes long, covering a wide range of topics including:  head injuries, avalanches, knee injuries, equipment design, psychology and biomechanics.

The entire 122-page book of abstracts is downloadable from:


Of particular interest was the presentation on head injuries. BASI has recently reviewed its policy on helmets and now all BASI Trainers are required to wear helmets as an example to course candidates. This is a policy that BASI President, Sir Steve Redgrave avidly endorses. Statistics in France show 90% of children wear helmets (Marc-Hervet Binet).  The abstract on page 29 of this congress paper states “While increased helmet use is associated with a decrease in head injuries (Shealey et al.2015) the hoped for benefit with regard to death has not been shown.” There is no doubt that reduced head injuries is to be welcomed.

Another area of interest worth noting by instructors are the overall health benefits of participating in snowsports over other sports.  This has been an ongoing theme at various international forums. The consensus seems to be that it is the prolonged residential opportunities of a snowsports holiday (usually over 5 days or more) that bring significant benefits from downhill snowsports over other sports and it is the prolonged activity of a week or so that achieves the overall health benefits.

At the final dinner there was an award (plus a $1000 cash prize) for the best upcoming scientific contribution which was awarded to a knee surgeon, Dr Jennifer Phillips from Frisco Medical Centre, for her research into treatments of tibia plateau fractures.

At the end of the congress there was a convivial ISSS Members General Assembly where elections were held. Dr Mike Langran, originally from Aviemore Medical Practice and active with Ski Patrol on Cairngorm Mountain (now residing in Australia), stepped down from his very successful chairmanship to hand the mantle over to Dr. Irving Scher from Seattle, USA.

The next congress  will take place in Squaw Valley, California in 2019. We look forward to what new research emerges in 2019.