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Sheltering Arms Blog

3 Tips to Avoid a Concussion during Winter

Posted on: December 4, 2018 by Clinicians Editor

By: Laura Ahmed, PT, DPT

Concussion affects all ages and can happen any time of the year, but as we enter the winter months, there are certain risk factors that may increase as the days get shorter and temperatures drop. The CDC estimates 2.8 million people visit the emergency room each year because of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This statistic includes not only mild TBI, synonymous with concussion, but moderate to severe TBI as well. In 2013, falls were the leading cause of TBI, accounting for 47% of all emergency room related visits.

Concussion awareness has increased in recent years; however, keep these three considerations in mind this winter to avoid getting a concussion.

  1. Be careful in places with low lighting. Our visual system plays a very important role for balance and it is normal to be somewhat less stable in the dark. Installing nightlights in your hallways at home can help improve your visual system’s ability to maintain your balance. If the area around your home is not well lit, it may be helpful to keep a flashlight in your car.
  2. Use extra caution in wintry weather conditions such as sleet, ice, or snow. These conditions make ground surfaces less stable for both walking and driving. Wear supportive shoes or boots with a good grip and watch out for black ice. When driving, pay close attention to weather forecasts and traffic patterns. When in doubt, don’t go out if the conditions are deemed unsafe for driving.
  3. Wear protective headwear such as a helmet when participating in winter sports such as skiing, sledding, or ice skating. It is important to stay active during the winter months, but it is also important to recognize that these activities are not immune to risk of concussion. Although wearing protective headwear has not been shown to prevent a concussion from occurring, it is very important to wear helmets to avoid other injuries such as skull and/or facial fractures or lacerations.

Click here to visit our conditions treated page for a list of the signs and symptoms of concussion that you should be aware of.

If you or someone you know has sustained a concussion, seeking medical care with your primary care provider, urgent care, or the emergency room may be necessary. Sheltering Arms Total Concussion Care Program provides rehabilitation services including physician management, physical therapy, speech and language pathology, and psychology services to serve the post-concussion needs of the community. Click here or call (804) 764-1000 if you’ve suffered a concussion and need help managing your symptoms.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion. Basic Information: Get the Facts. Accessed November 11, 2018. Updated April 27, 2017.