Whether you like to snowshoe after a big snowstorm, play a casual game of ice hockey, or hit the slopes on the weekends, winter activities are abundant and are a great way to ward off “cabin fever” during the seemingly long winter months. However, as with any physical activity there is a risk of receiving a brain injury, particularly with ice and snow creating hazardous conditions. Although the danger of a head injury is real and can happen at any time, there’s no reason not to go out and enjoy the snowy season; just exercise caution.
Brain Injuries Aren’t Just Sport-Related Injuries
The media is filled with news of athletes of all ages and abilities, from youth to NFL, who fall victim to a serious and even life threatening brain injury. While a substantial amount of brain injuries occur from a sports activity, a large amount of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur from a fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 30% of TBI causes results from falls. The winter can be a dangerous season for falls, including a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, falling during a hockey game, or tumbling down a hill while skiing. In all events, a TBI may occur along with other kinds of injuries such as breaks or sprains.
Enjoy the Outdoors & Preventing Injury
When the weather conditions become treacherous, it’s not always easy to put life on hold. As nice as it would be to stay home, build a fire in the fireplace, and hunker down with a good book, our lives are too busy. During the winter months, even running a few simple errands can become a challenge when parking lots become more like ice rinks or your own sidewalk becomes a threatening path. Consider these tips to avoiding injury during play and everyday activities:
- Preventing slips and falls: Since falls are one the leading causes of TBIs, it’s important to stay upright during the winter. Whether you’re taking the dog out for a short walk around the block or heading to the grocery store, your pace is key. People that hurry or are distracted are more likely to fall. To prevent falling on icy surface, walk slowly and pay attention to the surface you are walking on. Avoid ice if possible and always wear shoes or boots with good tread. The more aware you are, the less likely you will be to fall and hit your head.
- Winter Fun for All Ages: Whether you sled, ski, or skate, pay attention to the conditions before committing to an activity. For instance, when you take the family sledding, inspect the area for large bumps that may result in an accident. A fast hill and a hidden bump can send a sledder sailing through the air and hitting his or her head on the compacted snow. If you and your children decide to try out skiing or snowboarding, always wear a helmet; even professional winter athletes know the importance of wearing a helmet. Many people are receive head injuries during winter activities due to inexperience or carelessness. Always have a good understanding of what you are doing and if you don’t, take lessons.
As with any activity, during any season of the year, proceed with caution. Don’t forget to have fun, but don’t forget to use your head to save your brain.