Winter sports brain injury prevention tips

Skiing, snowboarding, sledding and ice skating are a pretty popular sports at this time of year and high speeds and slippery surfaces can lead to serious injuries.

Professional snowboarder, Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury while training for the Winter Olympics
Doctors may describe concussions as "mild" because they are usually not life threatening, but the effects can be serious and you should seek medical attention. Here are some prevention tips below for you and your family, provided by Brainline. The entire resource can be found on the Brainline website. 

1. Wear a properly fitted helmet and replace it after a serious fall.

When wearing a hat or cap to keep your head warm, make sure your helmet still fits securely on your head. It's also very important to replace your helmet properly after a crash. Some helmets are built to only withstand a single impact, while others can withstand more than one — depending on the severity. The snow may seem soft, but trees, ice, and other people aren't. 

2. Have fun, but know your limitations.

If it's your first time on the slopes, take lessons from an expert. Know your limitations and make sure children do as well.  

3. Be familiar with your surroundings and stay alert.

Be sure to scope out the trail, sledding hill, or skating rink before you take off at full speed. Be aware of blind spots, turns, and sudden drops or knolls. Try to avoid crowded areas, as you could also be injured when someone else does something irresponsible. Try to stay near the centre of the trail or hill to avoid obstacles. Never ski or sled through, or close to trees.
Stay alert and never wear headphones so you can hear what's going on around you.


4. Be aware of the warning signs for concussion

If you or someone you are with does take a hard fall, be sure you recognize the warning signs of a traumatic brain injury. Signs and symptoms of a mild brain injury, or concussion, can show up right after the injury, or they may not appear until days or even weeks afterward. Concussion symptoms can include: 
Chas suffered a brain injury from a skiing accident. You can read his story by following the link below
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Decreased coordination or balance
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
Sometimes people complain of "just not feeling like themselves." If you or a loved one notices any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention right away. If the person loses consciousness, seek emergency medical help as soon as possible. Finally, if you have a concussion, give yourself a chance to heal. Experiencing a second injury before the first one heals could have long-term consequences.

Chas, pictured above, sustained a brain injury from a skiing accident when he was 11. Read his story. 

Former professional
snowboarder, Kevin Pearce's (pictured at the top of this blog) brain injury prompted him to start a social movement called Love Your Brain. Read more here. 

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