Int J Sports Med 2014; 35(08): 645-650
DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1358673
Training & Testing
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Effect of Wearing a Ski Helmet on Perception and Localization of Sounds

G. Ruedl
1  Sport Science, University Innsbruck, Austria
,
M. Kopp
1  Sport Science, University Innsbruck, Austria
,
M. Burtscher
1  Sport Science, University Innsbruck, Austria
,
P. Zorowka
2  Department of Hearing Speech and Voice Disorders, University Innsbruck, Austria
,
V. Weichbold
2  Department of Hearing Speech and Voice Disorders, University Innsbruck, Austria
,
K. Stephan
2  Department of Hearing Speech and Voice Disorders, University Innsbruck, Austria
,
V. Koci
2  Department of Hearing Speech and Voice Disorders, University Innsbruck, Austria
,
J. Seebacher
2  Department of Hearing Speech and Voice Disorders, University Innsbruck, Austria
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History



accepted after revision 04 September 2013

Publication Date:
09 January 2014 (eFirst)

Abstract

Helmet use on ski slopes has steadily increased worldwide over the past years. A common reason reported for helmet non-use, however, is impaired hearing. Therefore, an intra-subject design study was conducted to compare hearing thresholds and sound source localization of 21 adults with normal hearing in an anechoic chamber when wearing a ski helmet and ski goggles or wearing a ski cap and ski goggles to the condition head bare. Hearing thresholds while wearing a ski helmet (6.8±1.6 dB HL) and ski cap (5.5±1.6 dB HL) were significantly different (p=0.030, d=0.44). Compared to head bare (2.5±1.2 dB HL), a significant difference was found for the ski helmet only (p=0.040, d=1.57). Regarding sound source localization, correct scores in the condition head bare (90%) showed a highly significant difference compared with those of condition cap (65%) and helmet (58%), respectively (p<0.001; d>2.5). Compared to the ski cap, wearing the helmet significantly reduced correct scores (p=0.020, d=0.59) irrespective of the tested sound pressure levels. In conclusion, wearing a ski helmet impairs hearing to a small though significantly greater extent compared with a cap, the degree, however, being less than what is termed as a hearing impairment. Compared to the condition head bare, wearing a ski cap or a ski helmet significantly reduced one’s ability of sound source localization.