January is National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

January is National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

Really? Why do we need to talk about Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month? People don’t ride their bikes in the winter.

Up until a couple months ago I would have agreed, because I hadn’t tried winter cycling. My first attempt at winter cycling was to do the Fat Santa Bike Ride with WWCycling Riding Club and I had a blast!

It was my first time securing a Santa Hat to my helmet and decorating my bike for the Christmas holidays. It was fun to see the people along the route react to Santas on cycles. We even had a reindeer!  A first for Cedarburg!  Residents had plenty of waves, smiles, honks and shout outs of  “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Claus!” and “Happy Holidays!” The kids were especially excited to see us riding.

A whole new world of Fat Tire Biking has opened up to me.

 

January is National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month

Winter cycling can be a lot of fun, but with treacherous roads there is an increase risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Why should a cyclist be interested in Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month?

Whether winter or not, Cyclists and winter athletes benefit from knowing the signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Various organizations have dedicated their efforts to make the public aware of the signs and symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Most often the discussion centers on hockey, skiing and snowboarding, but winter cycling is becoming more popular, and carries the same risk for a TBI. Also, many cyclists cross train, snowboard or ski and winter sports athletes are more likely to experience TBI. I’ve yet to meet a cyclist that plays hockey . . . but there’s always a first time.

What is TBI?  

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), also known as intracranial injury, occurs when an external force traumatically injuries the brain. This type of injury is commonly referred to as a head injury or concussion. Head Injury usually refers to TBI, but is a broader category because it can involve damage to structures other than the brain, such as the scalp and skull. A concussion is 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.

Prevention

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) as listed three preventative measures for head injuries:

  • Wear approved, well maintained and properly fitted protective equipment, such as helmets.
  • Stipulate a no hits to the head or other dangerous play rules.
  • Practice safe playing techniques and encourage athletes to follow the rules of play.

These measures were written with Winter Sports in mind, but the measures, particularly wearing a helmet, apply to cyclists as well.

Signs and Symptoms

The CDC website has tons of information under the topic “Brain Injury Basics.” Here is their list for signs and symptoms for concussions.

Concussion Signs Observed

  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

Concussion Symptoms Reported

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

I had a lot of fun on my first winter to ride and look forward to more winter riding in the months and years ahead. Everyone should try it!