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Event promotes helmets for winter athletes

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The Traumatic Brain Injury Center at the Hennepin County Medical Center will kick off a campaign this weekend to reduce the risk of concussions on ski slopes.

The Get Your Head in Gear campaign is aimed at getting skiers and snowboarders to increase their use of helmets. 

HCMC recreation therapist John Price says there is greater scrutiny of head injuries among athletes these days, and many team-based sports have strict guidelines for returning to play after a concussion. 

  "But in skiing or snowboarding it's not as easy to monitor," Price said, "because it's not as supervised as some of the team sports are. And so I think it's important to get that message out that concussion management or prevention is really, really important. And in these cases it's up to the individual to protect themselves."

Price said skiers and snowboarders are at risk. 

"There's incredible g-forces involved when you take the elements of speed and some of the jumps and the impacts that can occur," he said. "Without helmets it's likely that when people don't do a trick correctly, they're going to get a concussion."

He added that even the best skiers should wear helmets. He says he has treated three ski instructors in the past two years who got concussions after being struck by other skiers.   

The campaign kicks off from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Buck Hill in Bloomington. Skiers and snowboarders "caught" wearing a helmet by the ski patrol will be eligible for prizes.