Protect Your Noggin During Fall and Winter Sports

Tips on avoiding head injuries

SATURDAY, Nov. 29, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- With football, ice hockey, skiing and other sports, families need to be especially careful about head injuries.

Nearly 1.5 million cases of traumatic brain injuries are reported every year. About 50,000 of those injuries, or 3 percent, result in death, and 80,000 of them result in a disability, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many of those brain injuries are caused by car accidents, mishandled firearms or accidental falls, but one of the leading causes is injuries from contact sports, the CDC says.

The easiest and most important way to prevent such injuries is by wearing a helmet during such sports as football, hockey, rollerskating, skateboarding, bicycling, horseback riding and baseball or softball. Parents should also make sure the ground around their children's outdoor play area is made of shock-absorbent material such as sand or mulch.

Some signs of a traumatic brain injury include vision problems, constant headaches, slowness in thinking or speaking, dizziness, changing sleep patterns or ringing in the ears. For young children, signs may also include difficulty maintaining balance, listlessness or changes in eating habits, the CDC says.

Besides being careful about playground conditions, parents should also supervise sports activities and make sure first aid is available. For any head injuries, ice should be applied and the injury should be watched for at least 24 hours since internal bleeding may not show up until 24 to 72 hours after the injury, according to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

More information

To learn how to give first aid for head injuries, visit The University of Maine.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; University of Maine Cooperative Extension
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