Learn More About Traumatic Brain Injuries During Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month


With the winter sports season in full swing, January has been recognized as Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month.

This is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and to encourage everyone to take safety precautions while participating in the many wonderful winter sports available this time of year. TBIs are serious injuries that can result in long-term physical, cognitive and emotional impairments.

What is a TBI?

A traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain caused by a sudden, violent blow or jolt to the head. It can also be caused by a penetrating head wound that disrupts brain function. TBIs range from mild to severe and can affect physical, cognitive and emotional abilities.

Concussions are the most common form of TBI. Stemming from a blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skulls, concussions may be described as “mild” only because they are not immediately life-threatening. More severe TBIs can create life-long physical and mental health problems that may result in the need of ongoing care affecting all aspects of a person’s life.

Common Winter Sports Injuries

In 2021, there were an estimated 110,900 winter activity-related injuries treated in emergency rooms nationwide according to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The activities included snow skiing, ice hockey, tobogganing, ice skating, and using sleds, snow discs and snowmobiles.

While these numbers include all activity-related injuries, winter sports are particularly susceptible to causing TBIs due to the high speeds and unpredictable nature of the activities. Other studies put the TBI injury incident rate for ski and snowboarding as high as 20 percent of all injuries.

Preventing TBIs

The best way to prevent TBIs is to take these safety precautions while participating in winter sports:

  • Make sure you are physically fit enough to participate in your activity to reduce the risk of adverse physical reactions or falls.

  • Consider taking lessons to learn proper form and technique for your activity. Learning the right way of doing something not only makes it more fun, but also much safer in the long run.

  • Be aware of the risks and reduce the chance of injury by following the rules of the sport and not taking unnecessary risks.

  • Ensure your gear is of good quality, appropriate for the sport and fits.

  • Don’t participate alone. Make sure you have someone with you in case of an emergency.

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water allows your body to regulate its temperature and keeps you from growing overtaxed or lightheaded.

Resources for Those Affected by TBIs

If you or someone you know has suffered a TBI, there are a variety of resources available to help. The Brain Injury Association of Maryland (BIAMD) offers counseling, support groups, recommendations for therapies and educational programs. For more information, visit www.biamd.org, call 1-800-221-6443 or email info@biamd.org.

Bryan Pugh is the executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Maryland (BIAMD) – now celebrating its 40th anniversary serving Maryland families confronting the challenges of acquired brain injuries. Its 35th annual conference taking place March 23-24 will focus on issues related to individuals with brain injury and family members, children and adolescents in the school system, advocacy, and professional and clinical training. To register for the conference or learn more about brain injuries and BIAMD resources/community outreach initiatives, visit www.biamd.org.


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