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Concussion in Winter Sports

Each winter, hundreds of thousands of young athletes head out to ice and ski slopes to enjoy, practice, and compete in various winter sports. There's no doubt that these sports are a great way for kids and teens to stay healthy, as well as learn important leadership and team-building skills. But there are risks to pushing the limits of speed, strength, and endurance. And athletes who push the limits sometimes don't recognize their own limitations—especially when they've had a concussion.

Photo: Snowboarder

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

While most athletes with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some will have symptoms that last for days or even weeks. A more serious concussion can last for months or longer.

That's why CDC and the NFL teamed up with USA Hockey, the US Ski and Snowboarding Association, and 12 other national governing bodies for sports to develop a poster for young athletes. This poster lets athletes know that all concussions are serious and emphasizes the importance of reporting their injury. It also provides athletes with a list of concussion signs, symptoms, and steps they should take if they think they have a concussion.

The poster was created through CDC's "Heads Up" educational campaign that includes resources for high school and youth sports coaches, school professionals, and health care professionals. These initiatives include materials and information to help identify concussions and immediate steps to take when one is suspected.

Prevention and Preparation: On and Off the Ice and Ski Slopes

Insist that safety comes first. No one technique or safety equipment is 100 percent effective in preventing concussion, but there are things you can do to help minimize the risks for concussion and other injuries.

Photo: A person pulling a sled.For example, to help prevent injuries:

  • Make sure to wear approved and properly-fitted protective equipment. Such equipment should be well-maintained and be worn consistently and correctly.
  • Enforce no hits to the head or other types of dangerous playin hockey and other sports.
  • Practice safe playing techniques and encourage athletes to follow the rules of play.

Learn about concussion. Before strapping on your skates, skis or snowboard, learn concussion symptoms and dangers signs, and their potential long-term consequences. Parents and coaches should keep the four-step action plan with them at practices, competitions, or just when having fun with winter sports.

Order and display the concussion poster. CDC and the NFL encourage parents, coaches, and school professionals to display this poster in team locker rooms, competition and tournament sites, gymnasiums, ice rinks, and schools nationwide.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: December 24, 2012
  • Page last updated: December 24, 2012
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
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