January: National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month
The world was hit by a shocker when Formula 1 legend Micheal Schumacher was involved in a life-altering ski accident, leading to his deep coma. Followed by Ken Block, a professional rally driver and fan-favorite car stuntman, meeting an accident on a steep slope where his snowmobile landed on top of him, resulting in his demise.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that approximately 64,000 TBI-related deaths were recorded in the United States in 2020. The report also suggests that more than 223,000 TBI-related hospitalizations were recorded in 2019.
In accordance with this, January is observed as the National Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness Month. The aim of this month is to raise awareness on winter sports-related TBI and to discuss the importance and ways to prevent brain injuries.
Winter is when many people head out for the hills and seek joy and thrill. Some popular winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating, are favorite winter pastimes for many. However, they also come with a risk of TBI, and it is important to gear up properly and protect your brain.
Winter Sports TBI awareness isn't only for general people, but awareness is equally required by the employed workforce.
America's employees work year-round in anticipation of fun-filled holidays. They go on vacations with their friends and families to seek a break. Usually starts with leaving for winter parks and engaging in winter sports activities. So to have some fun, skiing or snowboarding.
A TBI injury or emergency can significantly impact an employee's life and career. In order to prevent winter sports TBI, the workforce should be made aware of its hazards.
What is TBI?
Traumatic brain injury or TBI is a type of brain injury that often occurs from a severe hit to the head or an accident injuring the brain. It ranges from mild to moderate to severe.
TBI, or Traumatic brain injury, has several symptoms.
Some physical symptoms include -
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Vision problems
- Constant pain in the body
- Runny nose and watery ears
Mental problems such as -
- Attention problems
- Short-term or long-term memory loss
- Mental Fatigue
- Disturbed sleeping patterns
Social or emotional problems include -
- Feeling emotional
- Triggered mental state
- A state of panic in public
A mild TBI is usually caused by a blow or bump on the head. Mild TBI or concussion has several symptoms. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and loss of memory. It can also cause trouble in sleeping patterns, leading to sleep loss or sleeping more than usual.
Moderate TBI or severe TBI
Moderate or severe TBI is caused by severe head injuries such as a strong hit to the head, a big blow or bump, and accidents impacting the brain directly. Moderate and severe TBI has lasting effects on the sufferer.
Symptoms of moderate or severe TBI can include loss of vision or hearing, memory loss, lasting mental or physical disability, and losing consciousness. Severe TBI can lead to permanent disability or death.
Source - Freepik
Winter sports can pose a high risk of traumatic brain injury; thus, it becomes more necessary to take the proper safety measures to reduce this risk. It includes gearing up for the event properly, wearing a fitting and safe helmet, and keeping a check on risky behaviors such as excessive speed or performing stunts. It is also essential to be aware of the surroundings.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of TBI and seeking medical attention can be a life savior. A medical practitioner knows greatly about the impacts and care needed for TBI, and it is always advisable to seek medical care whenever a person sees signs of TBI.
In some cases, an MRI or CT scan might be prescribed. It is always safe to go for them as they will give a clear image of the level of injury the brain has sustained and will help provide a better diagnosis.
Awareness: Signs of TBI and Prevention
January is observed as the National Winter Sports Traumatic brain injury (TBI) Awareness Month to raise awareness regarding winter sports TBI. If someone suspects a TBI, seek immediate medical attention and get evaluated by a health care professional
Common winter sports injuries such as skull fractures, bruised brain, or concussions result in TBI. Other possible injuries are bleeding and damage to veins and nerves in the brain.
As mentioned earlier, common signs and symptoms of TBI include the following -
- Memory loss
- Triggered mental state
- Loss of consciousness
- Seizures or convulsions
- Disturbance in sleep pattern.
- Slurred speech
- Weak legs and arms
- Physical pain
Various factors, such as falls from a steep hill, collisions, exposure to extreme cold, or dangerous accidents, cause injuries from winter sports. The data gathered by the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeon records reports -
- 76,000 injuries from snow skiing
- 53,000 injuries from snowboarding
- 48,000 injuries from ice skating
- 22,000 injuries from sledding and tobogganing
Some safety measures to take to prevent potential TBI -
Wear Protective Gear
Wear a safe and sturdy helmet whenever you participate in winter sports, whether participating in an event or having fun with friends. A helmet, gloves, protective pads, winter glasses, and other protective gear will protect you from a potential winter sports injury.
Check Weather Conditions
Check the weather conditions before going out to participate in winter sports. Keeping up with the weather forecast will save you from potential extreme conditions. Also, be aware of hazards such as icy patches, unmarked trees, stones covered with snow, and the rapid flow of snow from a slope.
Learn From Experiences
Take lessons from your experiences and learn proper techniques for the attempted winter sport. Knowing your limits and being aware of your abilities is important. It is not wise to push beyond one limits and go for something life-risking.
Stay Away From Alcohol and Drugs
Do not indulge in any sort of alcohol or drugs before or while participating in a winter sport. Alcoholic drinks or drugs impair cognition and judgment and reduce concentration and hand-eye coordination.
Awareness for Employees and The Workforce
As mentioned earlier, winter sports awareness is as important for employees as it is for anyone.
Along with being aware, the workforce could be trained in proper safety techniques and can be informed more about winter sports TBI. Employers can minimize the risk of injury by ensuring they are aware of the weather conditions and educating them on the equipment they should use.
TBI might have a lasting impact and can affect their ability to work and progress in their careers. As a result, increased medical expenses, decreased income, decreased productivity, and limitations on daily functioning may occur.
Employers can prioritize the safety of their workforce to prevent TBIs in winter sports by imparting training methods and raising awareness for winter sports, such as -
- Training proper safety techniques
- Training to use safety equipments and winter sports equipments
- Educating more regarding winter sports TBI
- Awareness on helmet and other protective gear usage
- Awareness related to weather conditions
- Conducting Mock safety drills
- Support policies for TBI
- Accommodating for physically limited employees
- Counselling Services
Awareness Campaigns on Social Media
More than a billion people actively use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The use of social media can be a powerful tool for raising awareness on TBI.
Sharing information and resources about TBI and running awareness campaigns can be a great idea.
People interested can join in alike communities on these platforms. And campaigns on social media platforms can potentially reach a big audience, raising great awareness among people.
Always Have an Exit Plan
Make sure you have a plan in case of an emergency. Come prepared for extreme winter sports, and have your emergency exit plan ready. Be aware of where the emergency kit is in your snowmobile and where the emergency telephone is. Have the first aid kid ready, and know your alternate exit road properly.
January is National Winter Sports Traumatic brain injury (TBI) Awareness Month. It’s a time to raise awareness about the risks of TBI and the precautions that can be taken to prevent them.
It is well known that the brain is a complex organ, and we still do not fully understand how it works, but we do know that it is vulnerable to injury.
It is possible to reduce the risk of TBI while participating in winter sports by taking the proper safety precautions and knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of TBI.
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