UW Combined Fund Drive

January 1, 2021

January is National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness Month

This winter is expected to be a heavy snow year, thanks to La Nina weather patterns. Lots of snow typically signals lots of winter snow sports! Whether you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, observing, sledding, or snowshoeing, snow safety is critical.

Between the health benefits of being active in snow and the exhilaration of dashing through snow, concussions and other serious brain injuries are just around the corner. A 2016 Health.Gov article stated that “about 30% of concussions in extreme sports occurred in snowboarding. Snow skiing was associated with about 25% of concussions.”[1]

To fully embrace the magic of snow and snow sports, we pulled together some tips for safe snow play.

Wear a helmet! Helmets have been shown to dramatically decrease the possibility of traumatic brain injuries associated with snow sports. Make sure your helmet feels snug, covers your head, undamaged, and labeled as ASTM certified to ensure it has been tested and meets safety standards.

Know before you go! Make sure you are aware of the conditions before you go out. Check weather forecast, avalanche conditions, and maps before you hit the slopes. This preparation can help you have the optimal experience in the snow.

When you can, stay near medical care. We live in a state with magical mountains and incredibly remote places for adventure. Seeking medical attention is critical for all brain injuries. As you immerse yourself in the season’s sports, be aware of a few signs and symptoms of brain injuries from the CDC[2].

Concussion Signs Observed:

  • Unable to recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Concussion Symptoms Reported

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

We are especially grateful to the following UWCFD member nonprofits and charities who help keep us all safe as we engage in winter sports:

Northwest Avalanche Center: To support and contribute to the educational, environmental and scientific activities provided for the public by the Northwest Weather Avalanche Center, including avalanche education for the public, and protection of public safety through the collection and dissemination of avalanche advisories and mountain weather forecasts, and other educational, environmental and scientific endeavors.

Brain Injury Alliance of Washington: The Brain Injury Alliance of Washington mission which begins with prevention, is to provide support to survivors of brain injury and their families, education for survivors and the general public and advocacy, to give a voice to this epidemic.

Brain Injury Association Of America: We promote research and provide personal support to help the more than 3,500,000 survivors of brain injuries recover their lives to the fullest extent possible.

Loup Loup Ski Education Foundation: Loup Loup Ski Education Foundation exists for winter sports education for our community through the operation of a safe, affordable, family friendly mountain destination for today and future generations.

[1] Dr. Geier, D. (2016, jan. 20).  “Head and neck injuries in winter sports.” American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Health.Gov.  https://health.gov/news-archive/blog/2016/01/head-and-neck-injuries-in-winter-sports/index.html

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_symptoms.html