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Love Ski Trips? January is Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

For lovers of winter sports, living in Dallas comes with one major downside. It takes a long time to reach good slopes, but that doesn’t stop skiing fanatics from flying or taking road trips to get their fix. Some make the journey to Ruidoso, Taos, Angel Fire or Red River. Several winter sports enthusiasts join the Dallas Ski Club to band together with other like-minded skiers to plan their trips.

If you plan on breaking out the skis or snowboards this season, then it is a good time of year to think about winter sports safety. The Johnny O Foundation reminds everyone that January is Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month. No matter what your level of skill might be, it never hurts to take extra precautions before you suit up for your favorite cold-weather activity.

All winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, hockey or sledding, come with a certain amount of risk. Anytime ice is present, a slip and fall is possible. For skiers and snowboarders, collisions with trees are yet another risk. The most dreaded result of these accidents is a blow or jolt to the head that causes serious damage – also known as a traumatic brain injury.

Every year, around 120,000 Americans are treated for head trauma as a result of skiing or snowboarding accidents. Head injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among skiers and snowboarders. Winter sports also make the Top 10 list of sports most likely to cause head injuries among children 14 and younger.

Most states do not have mandatory helmet laws for skiers and snowboarders, even though wearing a helmet can make a huge difference in the event of a fall or a collision. Roughly 70 percent of skiers and snowboarders report wearing helmets while participating in winter sports. That percentage should be much closer to 100.

Before you embark on your next winter sports excursion, remember those statistics and plan accordingly. Here are some tips that you might find helpful:

  • No matter what winter sport you are participating in, make sure to wear a helmet.
  • After a helmet endures a hard impact, it is time to replace it.
  • Make sure your shoes are suited for winter weather and that they have reliable tread.
  • Don’t push the limit of your abilities. Accidents happen when someone chooses a slope that is beyond their ability.
  • If you are a novice, go with someone who is experienced and knows the terrain.
  • Be especially careful whenever a slope – or a rink – is crowded. Collisions with others can lead to serious injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries can have major, long-lasting repercussions. Even the mildest forms of TBI – concussions — can impact the brain in ways that we are only beginning to understand. Brainline.org provides some great tips to help people identify signs of a concussion. The list could be very helpful for people of all ages. After someone suffers a slip, fall or collision, look for these symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Decreased coordination or balance
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea

Winter sports can be invigorating, thrilling and a source of great exercise. They can also be dangerous. Make sure you and those you are skiing with know the risks and look out for each other on the slopes.