It’s winter and for many, that means snow and with snow, there are plenty of winter sports and fun. It’s an annual practice for many states in the US to host winter games as professional sporting events or just a time of fun for the community and visitors. Although there is much to do, safety is highly encouraged, as winter sports are often associated with many accidents, leading to injuries.
One particular injury that too frequently arises from winter sports is brain damage. That’s why the month of January is National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness Month. Because Sioux Center Health wants you to stay safe while having maximum fun and wins this season, we have some information on the condition for you. Plus, we have composed a list of ways you can stay safe this winter and still do what you can to enjoy the season.
What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
Before we dive into those safety tips, let’s take a look at what traumatic brain injury is so you will have a better understanding of why you should protect yourself against it.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), traumatic brain injury is an acquired type of brain injury that takes place as a result of a sudden trauma that causes injury to the brain. For example, during skiing, if someone were to collide with a tree and hit their head at full-on impact that could certainly cause them to develop traumatic brain injury.
TBI is quite common and there are over 3.8 million TBIs in sports, in general, on a yearly basis within the United States alone. The NINDS has again reported that possibly half of the persons who are severely injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels or bruised brain tissue. Sometimes, long-term effects, including disabilities may be a resulting issue.
Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
If you or anyone has an accident during the winter season, here are some common signs and symptoms of TBI that you can look out for:
- loss of consciousness
- trouble with memory and concentration
- ringing in the ear
- blurred vision
- bad taste in the mouth
- behavioral or mood changes
Keep in mind that signs and symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Safety Precautions to Prevent TBI
- Wear protective gear, such as a helmet.
- Be vigilant and avoid idling. This helps you to keep focused on what’s in your path ahead so you don’t collide with objects.
- Be mindful of the situation with the snow and ice. Is the ice super slippery or if there are hanging blankets of snow that may cause an avalanche?
- Ensure that wherever you take yourself or your family has a medical team on standby.
- If you have a sports team, speak to them about avoiding violent play, particularly with ice hockey.
If someone is displaying signs of TBI, they should be given immediate medical attention. The longer they remain without appropriate medical intervention, means they are more likely to suffer long-term irreversible brain damage. Have fun and go for the win, but stay safe!
Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2022). Nih.gov. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Information-Page