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View Full Version : Wakeboard helmet or no?


kgrove
10-27-2008, 06:31 PM
Is there an undisputed conclusion on whether to use a helmet when wakeboarding? I would have thought the answer is obvious - wear a helmet - but I've now run across several people who are advising me not to wear a helmet. Their argument is that the extra weight and more importantly surface area of the helmet can cause more trauma to the neck and that helmets are really meant more for protection against blunt force to the head, which doesn't happen in wakeboarding except for maybe getting hit with your own board (their statement, not mine). The issue came up this weekend as one of the guys on our boat ruptured an eardrum which might have been prevented had he been wearing a helmet with ear protection.

ORX-1
10-27-2008, 06:39 PM
I always wear the helmet. I agree not the "coolest" but I have seen too many people get knocked in the head. I just ordered a new low profile one for next season.

http://i280.photobucket.com/albums/kk192/greggrossi_2008/Wakeboarding/backroll2.jpg
http://i280.photobucket.com/albums/kk192/greggrossi_2008/Wakeboarding/wakeboarding.jpg
http://i280.photobucket.com/albums/kk192/greggrossi_2008/Wakeboarding/CIMG0704.jpg

bigmac
10-27-2008, 06:51 PM
I think wakeboarding head injuries are more often related to the head hitting the water, and I don't think a helmet would do any significant good there, since the energy dispersal by the water is going to be far greater than the lining of the helmet. I don't wakeboard, so I don't really understand the liklihood of hitting one's head on the board. That, and protecting ear drums are the only reasons to wear a helmet while wakeboarding IMHO. On the other hand, I sincerely doubt that a helmet has any NEGATIVE effects. I've heard the arguments about neck injuries, and I doubt that they are true.

I do wear a helmet for hydrofoiling, but with that sport, getting hit on the head by a 40 inch long, 60-pound Sky Ski is a real possibility. Likewise, eardrum ruptures.

Jerseydave
10-27-2008, 07:01 PM
I wear a helmet for both wakeboarding and foiling. Mine is a Bern helmet, but next year I'll try the GATH.

http://www.murrays.com/gath/gath_hat.html

Should be a bit lighter and thinner, less chance of bucketing.

bigmac
10-27-2008, 07:03 PM
... GATH.

Should be a bit lighter and thinner, less chance of bucketing.I've found that crashing with my mouth closed reduces bucketing more than anything else...;)

kmillard92
10-27-2008, 08:24 PM
I learned wearing one, and after going out a few times with buddies and not using it, my head would hurt after taking a hard fall and couldn't continue. But whenever I wear it now, I can get right back up without felling it at all.

But that's just me :]

And the one time I hit myself in the head with the board, I was wearing it thankfully!

TX.X-30 fan
10-27-2008, 08:45 PM
Wakeskating--- Yes

Wakeboarding---- Do you have a seatbelt on your toilet.

vision
10-27-2008, 09:49 PM
There was a good thread about this topic last month. I think the answer to your question kgrove is that the verdict is still out. No question, helmets help prevent damage from the board smacking you. When you wear the ear covers, helmets just about eliminates the potential for ear drum rupture.

The problem is do they help with concussions? Does the increased surface area, which stops your head faster when you hit the water and therefore potentially increasing the force of your brain hitting the inside of your skull, offset the protective effect of the cushioning inside the helmet? And does the bucket effect increase the potential for neck injuries? There is no published data that I have seen.

This would be the perfect high school physics experiment.

rodecker1978
10-27-2008, 11:46 PM
Good question kgrove,
I've read several articles on this recently and vision is right, the jury seems to still be out. I do personally choose to wear one...a Bern helmet w/ear protection and it has really made a big difference for me. I'm able to bounce right back after hard falls. Haven't had any "bucketing effect" problems and has given me more confidence to go bigger. No more bad headaches after landing on my head... :D

tr6coug
10-28-2008, 03:30 AM
I wakeboarded for the first few years without one and smacked my head pretty good a few times. Now, I use a helmet all the time and have not hit my head nearly as hard. I would wear one just for the ear drum protection.

dpolen
10-28-2008, 08:24 AM
I figure I've got one noggin to use for the next 50+ years, I'm wearing a helmet to protect it, no matter how crappy of a wakeboarder I am. Just my 2 cents...I wish the helmet I bought had the ear protection, didn't really think about that when I bought the thing...Christmas is coming...

flipper
10-28-2008, 08:27 AM
Wakeskating--- Yes

Wakeboarding---- Do you have a seatbelt on your toilet.

Yes, that's just because I live in earth quake country though.:D

ShamrockIV
10-28-2008, 09:10 AM
i wear a helmet. took a hard fall this past summer and did not ride again untill i got one. hard hits are not the issue for me. being military blown eardrum affects paycheck so helmet is a must!! even got one for babymama. she looks alot better in one than me!!

Harvey
10-28-2008, 01:06 PM
I don't wear a helmet but then again I have busted the same ear drum twice on HS3's. The ear drum problem can be solved with the moldable earplugs made from wax that you cover the ear canal instead of put in the ear but I don't wear those either. I think I would wear the helmet if I had one for the eardrum protection. Maybe I should get one.

wakeX2wake
10-28-2008, 01:18 PM
Conclusive decision? kind of...

riding in a competition?... You (most likely) have to wear one
free riding?... its up to you

i don't wear one b/c they're bothersome to me... wore one in a comp and had a slide out on the tail of the board off a tantrum (i know dumb fall)... and the strap on it left me a nice burn on my neck/jaw which didn't help my chances that night when i went out (yea that's what i'll blame that on)... never busted an ear drum (knock on wood) but i still don't think it would change my mind seeing as my livelihood doesn't depend on recovery time... get one wear it if it doesn't bother you then make a habit of it... just gets on my nerves personally

kgrove
10-28-2008, 01:57 PM
The criticism I always hear of helmets (other than comfort) is increasing the risk of neck injuries. Has anyone even heard of someone suffering a bad neck injury while wearing a helmet? Obviously this wouldn't mean the neck injury wouldn't have been just as bad without the helment, but if nobody can even come up with a single incident of a bad neck injury while wearing a helmet, I feel I can safely dismiss the neck injury fear as unsubstantiated. I have no doubt the helmet is good for protecting against blows to the head and ruptured ear drums.

wakeX2wake
10-28-2008, 04:57 PM
personally never have... i wasn't too happy w/ the carpet/rope burn i got on my throat however...

other than that... i'd be willing to guess that knee ankle and core injuries are going to be MUCH more prevalent in this inherently dangerous and injury riddled sport... most of the seasoned pros that kill it are riding braced up if not b/c of a surgery then to prevent one... that's more of a concern to me than my dome... especially since i'm not the smallest of a guy

keeping in mind that my knowledge is very biased since no one i know or ride w/ rides w/ a helmet regularly:rolleyes:

rodecker1978
10-28-2008, 05:14 PM
The criticism I always hear of helmets (other than comfort) is increasing the risk of neck injuries. Has anyone even heard of someone suffering a bad neck injury while wearing a helmet? Obviously this wouldn't mean the neck injury wouldn't have been just as bad without the helment, but if nobody can even come up with a single incident of a bad neck injury while wearing a helmet, I feel I can safely dismiss the neck injury fear as unsubstantiated. I have no doubt the helmet is good for protecting against blows to the head and ruptured ear drums.

I have never heard of a specific incident where someone sustained a neck/back injury that was blamed on the helmet worn. I have one huge noggin and it needs to be protected!

jwroblew
10-29-2008, 04:24 AM
I have seen a 2 people really slice up there ear while boarding, helmets would have definitely prevented the injury. I think many wakeboard schools require the use of a helmet, which might tell you something.

As far as neck injuries due to the helmet use. I would think that is highly unlikely, the weight of our head is much greater than any wakeboard helmet, wearing a helmet I would not think would increase the inertia of your head that much.

vision
10-29-2008, 09:28 AM
A few of our local pros claim that they have suffered neck sprains while wearing helmets, but how often this actually happens is unclear.

It is not a weight concern with the helmet, but the bucket affect of slowing down forward progress of your head much faster than your body as the helmet acts like a bucket dragging in the water.

tex
10-29-2008, 05:36 PM
I wear one boarding, foiling, and jumping. When jumping, I'm not worried about hitting my head on the ramp...just about hitting it on the water...very hard!

woftam
10-29-2008, 07:39 PM
There are quite a few sports where the use of helmets was rare or nonexistent that we now see helmets in common use. (snow skiing, waterski jumping-I’m old enough to remember, bike riding/racing, and the NHL has gone from having goalies with no head protection to being a full helmet league, just to name a few) Given I don’t see an emphasis on commercials or other advertising regarding helmet use, I’m guessing it’s not slick marketing driving increased use.

Many times it’s mandated for competition or as a prerequisite for instruction. Helmet laws for motorcycle riders vary from state to state. (Many paramedics typically call Motorcycle riders who don’t wear helmets while riding “organ donors”) Various states have mandatory helmet use laws children of a certain age range wrt bike riding. For others it just seems like smart practice.

WRT waterskiing, I’ve entered or been a spectator to countless jump competitions or practice sessions. I’ve witnessed skiers be needlessly injured or more seriously injured due to not wearing a helmet. Injuries occurred when striking the jump surface, water, or a trailing ski with a non-helmeted head. In the cases involving striking the jump surface (and to a lesser degree the other mentioned instances) the ability to walk away depends a great deal on the severity of the impact. That said, I have not witnessed head injuries when the skier hit the water hard while wearing a helmet or a head injury due to a ski striking the head while wearing a helmet. I can’t say the same for the reverse scenario. Results were mixed when hitting the ramp head first, helmet or not, although I think most would like their chances better wearing a helmet. In 10+ years of active competition and many more as a casual spectator, I have not actually seen an injury caused by a helmet bucketing, although I realize it is possible.

In terms of big air and awkward impacts, I wouldn’t think the helmet protection equation is not too far removed from jumping vs. wakeboarding, although a quick read of comments on this board (other threads included) would indicate that ear protection (ruptured eardrums) is important for wakeboarding or our members suffer a disproportionate number of ear related injuries while wakeboarding.

In summary, it’s my perception that “bucketing” is cited as a potential problem by those generally opposed to the use of a helmet while wakeboarding. I’m happy helmets are available at reasonable prices and that the technology has evolved to make them user friendly and less prone to bucketing than previous generations. In the end, when you have a choice, ride with the equipment that suits you. For me, I’ll strap on a helmet