Curlers are thinking about head safety

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Curling. It's a Canadian winter tradition. In fact Canada’s first curling club, The Royal Montreal Curling Club, was established in 1807. We've been doing it essentially the same way for a long time. With recent high profile injuries, some in the curling community have started to think about updated safety standards for the sport.

In October this year Barbara Weber, a long time curler, lost her balance and fell on the ice. She hit her head and was conscious when the ambulance took her from the rink. People thought perhaps it was a bad concussion, but she died in the hospital a week later. Falls on the ice happen to novice and professional curlers. Think of Brad Gushue’s fall recently that left him with a swollen eye and some stitches.

More and more at curling clubs people are wearing helmets. Kids are now required to wear them in the junior leagues at many clubs. It isn’t however, a nationwide practice. Protective headgear rules are set by individual clubs. Most clubs are not asking for helmet regulations, but they are welcoming the players who want to wear helmets to protect themselves. Some are wearing padded hats and headbands, although their actual protective benefits aren’t tested.

At the Scarboro club where Mrs. Weber died some are wearing hockey or bike helmets. The hockey helmets are a good choice since they are designed for falls on ice, and protect the right parts of the head. Bike helmets are not designed for falls on ice. As always, it’s important to wear the helmet designed for the activity.

I suspect we are seeing the shift in curling to accepted and standard use of helmets for head protection. We’ve seen it in motor cycles, bikes, hockey, skiing, and snowmobiling. Any blow to the head can be life altering. It only makes sense to protect your brain.