Extreme sports are more popular than ever. Contests like the Winter Olympics, the X Games and a number of other competitions have created a seemingly endless array of sports and hybrid sports including skiing, snowboarding, base jumping, snow kiting, ice yachting and more. As the popularity of winter sports continues to grow, so does the frequency of injuries to the head and neck. As more attention has been given to traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) and the effort to raise awareness, January has been designated as National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month.
Every year, thousands of people are injured participating in winter sports from sprains and strains to bone fractures and dislocations. With injuries numbering in the hundreds of thousands each year, injuries to the head and neck account for up to 19% of winter sports injuries reported by ski patrols and emergency departments. It is estimated that the costs associated with these injuries that include medical, legal, loss or work and pain and suffering is more than $6.65 billion! And the frequency of these types of injuries is increasing… from 2000 to 2011, the number of reported head injuries grew from 34,565 to 40,042.
Designated as mild, moderate or severe in nature, TBI’s take several forms. the most common type of TBI is concussion. If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury, it is important to get help right away. Since it is possible to suffer a concussion and not know it, awareness of the symptoms of a concussion or other TBI are also important. Some of those symptoms include headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea or vomiting, slurred speech or delayed responses, confusion and fatigue.
Of course, prevention is the number one way to fight against head injuries. While some injuries cannot be avoided, there are a number of ways to make an effort to prevent them including:
- Wear a helmet. Helmets are critical in extreme winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, which account for a significant number of concussions.
- Do everything possible to optimize the conditions where you are performing these activities. Stay within the marked boundaries on the slopes and watch out for obstacles and hazardous conditions.
- Try to participate in these activities in places where medical care is not far away. Professional competitions have doctors and emergency medical services, but many people perform these activities in remote locations.
- Seek medical attention if there is any question that you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury, no matter how minor it might seem.
As greater awareness of the risk factors associated with these winter sports injuries grows, so does the opportunity for sports medicine and other physicians to advocate for safer equipment, improved medical care and continued research around sports injuries. If you or someone you love has suffered a TBI or other sports-related injury and would like to learn how treatment through Chiropractic Neurology can help, please contact the team at Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center today.