Int J Sports Med 1982; 03(3): 169-173
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1026083
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Depressed Skull Fracture in Skiing and Its Experimental Study

S. Oh1 , M. Ruedi2
  • 1Department of Neurosurgery Kantonsspital Chur, Switzerland
  • 2Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


During the last seven skiing season, 57 patients were treated surgically for head injuries caused by skiing accidents. A typical type of injury was observed, namely the “depressed fracture” in 84% of the cases, accompanied by brain contusions or hematomas. The mechanism of the accidents was analyzed. A depressed fracture is caused by direct local force application, often as the result of high or not properly adjusted speed. Through this impressive observation of depressed fracture with or without brain damage, experimental impact mechanisms of human skull depressed fractures were studied. In the present study, a tolerance threshold of about 1 to 2 kN (can be compared to an impact of about 16 km/h) was observed for a depressed fracture in the temporal region, which often is the area of severe damage in skiing.

This clinical and experimental examination should aid in preventing head injuries in skiing accidents because head injuries are mostly the result of depressed fractures, accompanied by brain contusions or hematomas.

From these analyses, it can be shown that the wearing of helmets is in fact an effective possibility for the prevention of head accidents in skiing. It should be recommended particularly for children and young people.