Healthy Altitudes

Did you know? January is National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness Month. 

As the winter sports season kicks into full gear, it’s important to understand the safety measures you should take to protect yourself and your loved ones from injury, especially TBIs.

What is a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury, that disrupts the brain’s normal functions. A concussion is a common and mild form of a TBI.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs were diagnosed in approximately 288,000 hospitalizations in 2014. Additionally, an average of 155 people in the United States died each day from injuries that include a TBI.

So how do you protect yourself?

  • Wear a helmet when you or your loved ones snowmobile, ski, snowboard, play ice hockey, or use an all-terrain vehicle. Make sure the helmet isn’t cracked, and fits properly.
  • Don’t participate in a physical activity or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Have your eyes checked at least once a year, and update your eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.
  • Don’t overexert yourself or participate in an activity that is more difficult than your capabilities.
  • Understand the signs and symptoms of a TBI.

What are the signs and symptoms?

It’s important to watch a person’s behaviors after they hit their head. Keep an eye on if they are moving clumsily, answering questions slowly, showing mood or personality changes, appearing dazed, or can’t recall events prior to or after they hit their head.

The most common symptoms of a TBI include headache, blurred vision, nausea, balance issues, irritability and/or anxious, sensitivity to light, and lack of energy. Some of these symptoms may appear right away. Others may not be noticed for days or months after the injury. They can easily be missed.

If you’re concerned about someone’s health and safety after they’ve hit their head, seek the assistance of a medical professional immediately. They can swiftly and accurately assess if additional care is needed.