Winter brings greater risk of concussions and other brain injuries

Local News

If you hit your head, take it seriously -- here are the signs that'll let you know it's time to go to the doctor

(WKBN) – January is recognized as National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury Month. Winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and even sledding can lead to concussions or worse.

Dr. Brandon Weeks, with Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital, said there are about 16,000 head injuries from those types of activities each year.

With quick speed, the frozen ground, and other people and trees in your path, you have a good chance of hitting your head.

Weeks said he’s seen some injuries that led to lifelong impairments.

“You can have everything from a mild concussion, just kind of getting dazed and confused, to having a few days of headaches afterwards. And I’ve seen, actually, very severe, traumatic brain injuries even in youngsters, which is sad to see.”

Other symptoms of a mild concussion are irritability, headache or difficulty concentrating. If you notice these after hitting your head, you should contact your doctor.

“Certainly, if right after you hit your head, if you were knocked out, then that signifies a more serious injury, and that would warrant going to the emergency department and getting looked at, and possibly getting a workup, getting your head scanned, making sure that there’s no structural change or even bleeds going on,” Weeks said.

If you have a headache that is only getting worse, he said you need to go to the ER.

Weeks suggests always wearing a helmet when skiing or snowboarding, and even sledding. He also recommends avoiding steep or overcrowded hills.

He said when it comes to traumatic brain injuries, it’s not only sports that you need to keep in mind. Slippery sidewalks are also a culprit. He said he sees people with concussions after they’ve fallen on ice.

If you do hit your head, whether during a fall or playing in the snow, take it seriously. Try to remember how you felt after the impact and how it happened. That will be helpful if your symptoms end up changing.

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