Dr. Mark Mirabelli of Highland Family Medicine discussed the importance of protecting your head while enjoying your favorite winter activities Thursday on News 8 at Sunrise.
January is National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month. “Concussion and traumatic brain injury are things that have been increasing in awareness over the last decade, but a lot of people forget that even sports that are not traditionally considered risk activities, you can still hurt your head,” said Dr. Mirabelli. “Most people, of course, know that hockey is a risk sport, and it’s certainly one of the highest, but people forget things like figure skating, a non-contact activity, certainly at high risk for falling and hitting your head. Activities like downhill skiing, even cross country skiing, power sports like snowmobiling, certainly snowboarding, all of these sports carry a risk of head injury.”
The doctor said we can be proactive when it comes to protecting ourselves. “First and foremost, it’s really important that you wear a helmet,” he said. “No matter which activity it is that you choose, you should be wearing a helmet, even if it isn’t legally required of you.”
When it comes to winter activities, Dr. Mirabelli said do not mix alcohol. “Unfortunately alcohol, as we all know, is something that’s going to make you think a little bit slower, have a slower reaction time and impair your judgment, maybe think that you’re a better athlete than perhaps you might be,” he said. “That might be something that people will drink at beer league in hockey, perhaps drink while they’re out snowmobiling, and is certainly available at a lot of ski lodges when you go skiing or snowboarding.”
If you hit your head, or someone else falls and hits their head, Dr. Mirabelli said it’s important to recognize key indicators of a problem. “So, if somebody has taken a fall and they think they may have hit their head, even if they’re not sure, if they develop symptoms of a headache, they’re dizzy, they have blurred vision, they feel nauseous or if they just feel like they can’t focus or they’re confused, those could be signs of a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, and is something that needs to be evaluated right away,” he said.