Safeguard Against Winter Concussions

Sports like hockey, skiing, recreational skating, sledding or snowboarding are great ways for children and adults to stay in shape and healthy during the winter months, but like any activity, there is the chance of injury.

One particularly serious but preventable injury is a concussion which is a brain injury that affects the way you think and remember things for a short time.

Dr. Graeme Young, head of emergency medicine at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital part of Horizon Health Network, says there are many symptoms of a concussion.

“Any blow to the head, face or neck, or body that causes a sudden jarring of the head, such as being struck with a stick or elbow or being checked in a hockey game, may cause a concussion,” says Young. Individuals, especially children who experience a head injury should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

Young says some symptoms of a concussion include not knowing the time, date, or place; general confusion; not being able to remember what happened; headache; dizziness; feeling dazed; seeing stars; ringing in the ears; sleepiness; loss of vision, or double or blurry vision; stomach ache or nausea; poor co-ordination or balance; blank stares; vomiting; slurred speech; and slow to answer questions or follow directions. A person can have a concussion regardless of whether they lose consciousness or not.

“If you suspect an individual has a concussion, they should stop playing the sport right away,” says Young.  “Do not leave the individual alone. A doctor should see the individual as soon as possible that day. If an individual is knocked out, call an ambulance to go to a hospital immediately. Do not move the individual or remove sporting equipment, such as a helmet. Wait for the paramedics to arrive.”

One of the best ways to avoid head injuries or concussions is to wear a helmet. “Wearing a helmet is an easy way to offer protection when playing sports,” saysYoung. Children and adults should wear a helmet whenever they are skating, snowboarding, sledding or skiing, or during any activity that could result in a head injury.

Horizon Health Network is the largest health care organization in Atlantic Canada, operating 12 hospitals and more than 100 medical facilities, clinics and offices providing medical services ranging from acute care to community based health services to New Brunswick, northern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. With 1000 physicians, an annual budget exceeding $1 billion and 14,000 employees, Horizon Health Network’s strategic vision will focus on Research, Innovation and Education.