Bayhealth recently offered a selection of tips to avoid brain trauma during winter sports.

Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowmobiling and ice hockey are examples of winter sports and activities.

“All of these winter sports can cause injuries and brain trauma ranging from mild concussions to more severe concussions to significant intracranial bleeding caused by skull fracture and/or contusions, such as epidural hematoma and other types of hematomas,” said Bayhealth Neurosurgeon Nasrollah Fatehi. “If you fall or bang your head in any other way, and you have symptoms such as dizziness, headache, not thinking clearly, trouble focusing, etc., you need to go to the ER for a CT (computerized tomography) scan. If you’ve had any loss of consciousness and/or amnesia it is especially critical that you get to the ER right away.”

Tips for lessening the risk of brain trauma include:

— Know experience level and stay at or below it.

— Wear a helmet and other protective gear.

— Take lessons to learn how to fall safely and less often and on using proper techniques.

— Encourage safe play. Avoid direct hits to the head or any other dangerous play that can increase risk of brain trauma. Also discourage aggression in practice and play.

— Pad side posts and side walls for potential impact.

— Incorporate neck strengthening exercises into training regimens. Data shows neck strengthening reduces risk of sport related concussion because stronger neck muscles help cushion against and lessen the forces that cause concussion.

— Examine the playing area for uneven surfaces.

— Learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion. They include headache; confusion; double or blurred vision; light or sound sensitivity; dizziness/balance problems; nausea and/or vomiting; difficulty remembering or concentrating; feeling sluggish, foggy or groggy; feeling more emotional; sleep problems; and loss of consciousness.

— Understand the severity of a second impact. Second impact syndrome is when the brain swells quickly after suffering a second concussion before being fully healed from the previous concussion. The second impact can occur minutes, days or weeks after the initial concussion. A mild concussion can lead to SIS, which can then lead to impairment or death.

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