December 2016 archive

Preventing Brain Injuries During Winter Sport Season

Although summer is the season best known for outdoor activities, winter is often overlooked as a season full of outdoor fun and sports. From ice skating with a group of friends at the local rink to joining the ski team at school, there are numerous activities for everyone to enjoy as the snow falls and the temperatures begin to drop. As with every sporting activity, either for fun or as part of an organized league, there is the potential to be injured.


Sporting injuries often include sprains, strains, and minor fractures, but some of the most serious include a life changing brain injury. Here are some ways to prevent a brain injury while enjoying some of your favorite winter sports:

Snowboarding and Skiing


If you’ve ever hit the slopes, you may have noticed children as young as preschool aged and even elderly adults enjoying the skiing and snowboarding. For safety reasons, ski resorts often urge novice skiers and snowboarders  to use the “beginner” hills and for many beginners, the starter hill is big enough. Although people, who are new to skiing and snowboarding, may be more likely to be injured while flying down the hill, skiers and snowboarders of all ages and expertise levels are at risk of concussions, even professionally trained skiers and snowboarders.


The best way to avoid a head injury is to wear a helmet. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, approximately 10 million Americans ski or snowboard each year and an estimated 600,000 injuries are a result from hitting the slopes. Of those injuries, approximately 20% are head injuries, many were reported not wearing a helmet.

Ice Hockey and Ice Skating


Have you ever wondered why hockey players wear a helmet and a figure skater doesn’t? While hockey players are at a much greater risk for suffering a TBI, due to the contact nature of the sport, figure skaters could be a risk of bumping his or her head with a fall during a routine. Again, the level of expertise doesn’t automatically make you immune from getting a head injury.


Children are at a particularly high risk for head injuries when participating in ice sports. If your child wants to get involved in winter ice sports, it’s crucial that he or she wears a helmet, particularly in the learning stages. Talk to the instructors and see what their protocol is for preventing head injuries and other types of injuries.


All Other Types of Winter Activities

Winter is full of fun activities from sledding, curling, snowshoeing, and walking around the neighborhood during a light snowfall. While many of these types of activities seem relatively harmless, you are still at risk of a head injury. Why? Ice is the dangerous factor in a majority of winter sport injuries. It’s often hard to see and it can be hard to recover once you start slipping. Wearing a helmet all day long is not a feasible option, but you can reduce your risk by wearing ice cleats on your boots or shoes and walk slowly, focusing on the surface on which you’re walking.