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January is Winter Sports (Traumatic Brain Injury) Awareness Month

winter sports and traumatic brain injurySports can be a fun and exciting way to stay active in the winter, but you must take precaution when playing any sport to avoid potential injury. There are over 200,000 cases of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, every year. Traumatic Brain Injury is a blanket term that is used to cover any blunt, sharp, neurological or chemical trauma to the head that causes impaired brain activity.

Symptoms, Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury is a fairly common injury in sports. Its symptoms can range form mild to severe, as most traumatic injuries can.

What MILD Traumatic Brain Injury Looks Like

  • After initial trauma, disorientation or loss of consciousness lasts 30 minutes or less.
  • MRI/CAT scans appear normal
  • Mild headaches, memory loss, difficulty thinking.
  • Mood swings, frustration.

What SEVERE Traumatic Brain Injury Looks like

  • After initial trauma, loss of consciousness is longer than 30 minutes
  • Memory loss lasts longer than 24 hours
  • Impairment of high-level cognitive function
  • Potentially comatose state
  • Can’t speak properly, may not be able to use extremities correctly or at all

Each case of traumatic brain injury is different. If you believe you or someone near you may have suffered a brain injury, call 911 immediately, as immediate medical attention may be necessary.

What Causes Traumatic Brain Injuries

Most people believe that traumatic brain injuries can only happen from blunt trauma. While common, especially in winter sports, there are a few different categorizations of things that can cause traumatic brain injury. Learn more about Traumatic Brain Injury Causes here.

Open Head Injury

Any penetrative wound, such as a gunshot, can cause traumatic brain injury. Often, there are other medical issues that need to be controlled as well, eg. bleeding, swelling, making open head injuries difficult to manage.

Closed Head Injury

Slipping or falling and landing on your head, or collision with your head, may cause a closed head injury. This is the common type of traumatic brain injury that we see from sports and car accidents.

Deceleration Injuries

This happens when the brain is moved or stopped abruptly and slams the front/back of the skull. This may cause the brain to swell or bleed.

Chemical Trauma

If toxins enter the bloodstream and affect the brain, you may experience traumatic brain injury without impact or penetration.

 

Loss of Oxygen

When there is not enough oxygen to the brain, neurons in the brain can die. This can result in severe cognitive / memory deficits.

Cancer / Tumors

Cell growth malfunction can cause tumors to grow, pressing against the brain and causing damage to neuron groups. Surgery to remove the tumor may also damage the brain.

Infection

Encphalitis and Meningitis are two common infections that can destroy neurological function.

Stroke

Blocking of blood flow to the brain will cause cell death. This can cause permanent trauma to the brain.

Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness

Be aware of the symptoms of traumatic brain injury – it could save your life. Seek immediate medical help if you believe someone has suffered from a traumatic brain injury – time is critical. Make sure to wear proper protective gear when playing any sport.