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Stay Safe as you Head Out this Winter

January is National Winter sports traumatic brain injury awareness month

Whether you’re dusting off the sled, a pair of ice skates or other gear for your favorite winter activity, pause before you start.

It’s always important to know what can happen as a result of an injury, and this time of year we want you to be aware of what a traumatic brain injury is and how important it is to prevent this injury while participating in winter sports.

A traumatic brain injury is just as it sounds–when the brain is injured by sudden trauma. For example, falling off a sled and bumping your head against a hard surface can cause injury. Of the 1.7 million people who have a traumatic brain injury each year, about 50,000 die.

Symptoms for this type of injury depend on severity and range from headache, difficulty thinking and dizziness to intense headache, vomiting and seizures. People who experience any symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

Depending on which area of the brain is damaged and how severe the damage is, the long-term health effects may include impaired learning or memory, change in mood and altered senses, such as speech…just to name a few.

Physicians conduct a physical examination and use imaging tests to view the brain and diagnose this type of injury.

For less severe injuries, conservative treatment, such as rest and observation, is recommended. However, surgery may be needed to prevent further damage to the brain. Surgery can remove blood clots, repair skull fractures and open up the skull to relieve pressure.

Columbia neurosurgeons Drs. Guy M. McKhann II and Sameer A. Sheth specialize in treating brain trauma. Both work with highly skilled, multidisciplinary teams and state-of-the-art equipment to provide the latest surgical treatments to their patients.

Brain injury doesn’t have to be beyond your control. Prevention is the best cure, so wear a helmet, stay aware of your surroundings and don’t participate in activities that are out of your depth.

If you do sustain even a mild injury, don’t return to the activity until you consult your physician. Follow your physician’s guidance and wait for your brain to fully recover. Another brain injury before the first one is healed, even if it’s less severe than the first, can cause your brain to swell rapidly and put your life at risk.

This winter, have fun participating in your favorite winter sports, but remember to take care of your health by learning about and preventing traumatic brain injuries.

To learn more about brain trauma expert Dr. McKhann II, visit his bio page here.

To learn more about brain trauma expert Dr. Sheth, visit his bio page here.

Photo Credit: © [Nikokvfrmoto] /Dollar Photo Club

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