National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month: Tips for Safety

Staying fit and healthy — and helping prevent the need for physical therapy — can come in the form of many activities. Of course, in winter, that often can mean ice skating, hockey, skiing, and more.

Given these activities, January is recognized as National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month — that’s Traumatic Brain Injury.

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York offers some safety tips:

  • “Wear a properly fitted helmet that is appropriate for the activity. Helmets can go a long way toward preventing or reducing the severity of a TBI.”
  • “Set a no hits to the head or other dangerous play rule for hockey and other contact sports.”
  • “Take lessons. If you’re going skating, skiing, or snowboarding, basic lessons will help you learn how to fall more safely and less often.”

Notes the U.S. National Institutes of Health:

“Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury. A concussion is the mildest type. It can cause a headache or neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and tiredness. People with a moderate or severe TBI may have those, plus other symptoms:”

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Dilated eye pupils

The BCBS piece notes that the “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages coaches and parents to follow a four-step action plan when a concussion is suspected during sports activities:”

  • “Remove the athlete from play.”
  • “Ensure the athlete is evaluated by a health care professional experienced in evaluating concussions.”
  • “Inform the athlete’s parents or guardians about the possible concussion.”
  • “Keep the athlete out of play the day of the injury and until a health care professional experienced in evaluating concussion says they are symptom-free and okay to return to play.”