Winter Sports – Snow Much Fun!

By Dr. Michael Fuentes

Even though snow isn’t likely in the Corpus Christi area, many fans of winter sports will be traveling during upcoming months to participate in activities that include skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowmobiling, and ice-skating.

Winter sports and activities are a great way to remain active during the colder months. However, with winter activities comes some cautionary advice–especially for those who don’t regularly have access to cold-weather sports.

Skiing and snowboarding are great forms of exercise. But ice and snow can create hazardous conditions that can lead to falls, and falls are the leading cause of brain injuries.

Your brain has the consistency of gelatin. It is cushioned by the fluid inside your skull. When you suffer a blow or a jolt to the head, it can forcibly slide your brain back and forth, which can stretch and damage the brain cells and create chemical changes. This can also lead to bleeding in or around the brain, which can cause symptoms such as drowsiness, confusion, blurry vision, headaches, nausea, dizziness, or difficulty in concentrating and remembering things.

Brain injuries can affect individuals, not only physically, but also emotionally and behaviorally. In the United States, more than 5 million people live with disabilities caused by brain injuries.

Although with winter sports the danger of a head injury is real, don’t let it stop you from enjoying your activity. Just be cautious. There is no single tip about staying 100 percent safe, but there are many tips that can minimize the risks. With a little precaution and planning, you can keep yourself and your family free from injury during winter activities.

Here are a few tips for participating in winter sports:

  • Know your limitations, especially if you’re new to a sport or don’t participate in it regularly. Take a lesson from a trained professional if you’re just starting out. And consider a refresher lesson if it has been a while since you’ve participated in that activity, or if you want to better your skills.
  • If you are skiing or snowboarding, go on the slope that is appropriate to your skill level. Novices should always go on beginner slopes.
  • Wear a helmet. Choose the right helmet for the right activity and make sure it fits properly.
  • Pay attention to the ground surfaces and conditions. Take note of any icy patches, drops, uneven terrain, and turns.
  • When outdoors, stay in well-marked and maintained areas. Don’t go off established paths.
  • Wear proper equipment–especially proper shoes or boots–for the sport or activity in which you are participating.
  • Stay alert, and don’t wear headphones.
  • If skiing, snowboarding or sledding, try to stay in the middle of the trail and stay away from trees.

 

Dr. Michael Fuentes is the Medical Director of Corpus Christi Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital provides specialized rehabilitative care to patients recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. For more information, visit CCRH.ernesthealth.com, call 361-906-3700 or visit the hospital at 5726 Esplanade Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas.