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Concussion in Winter Sports: How to Prevent and Identify

Concussion Symptoms to be Concerned About

My middle school’s school nurse just sent this out and I thought this was great information.

Here are concussion symptoms from The Mayo Clinic:

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.

The most common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, amnesia and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not be preceded by a loss of consciousness, almost always involves the loss of memory of the impact that caused the concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury:

  • Concentration and memory complaints
  • Irritability and other personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Psychological adjustment problems and depression
  • Disorders of taste and smell

Symptoms in children
Head trauma is very common in young children. But concussions can be difficult to recognize in infants and toddlers because they can’t readily communicate how they feel. Nonverbal clues of a concussion may include:

  • Listlessness, tiring easily
  • Irritability, crankiness
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking


Each winter, hundreds of thousands of young athletes head out to ice and ski slopes to enjoy, practice, and compete in a wide variety of 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.

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.

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.

For example, to help prevent injuries:

  • Make sure to wear approved and properly fitted protective equipment. Protective equipment should be well-maintained and be worn consistently and correctly.
  • In hockey and other sports, enforce no hits to the head or other types of dangerous play.
  • 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, as well as the potential long-term consequences of concussion.

If you suspect someone may have a head injury, be sure to remove the person from play and have him or her evaluated by the health care professional. Let the health care professional know how the injury occurred, if the person lost consciousness and for how long, and if the person experienced any memory loss or seizures.

The injured person should stay out of play until a health care professional says they are symptom free and it’s OK to return. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage and even death.

For more information about head injury, contact the School Nurse or visit

Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ann

    I am so paranoid about concussions since hearing about Natasha Richardson’s accident.

    Last year my son fell of the couch and hit his head on the table and it swelled up as big as a plum – I was so worried I called the paramedics who came and luckily we was okay – so scary though! THANKS for the info on how to prevent and recognize a concussion!

    • To Ann,
      My middle school nurse sent it around. Then the strange thing is that a classmate of my 4th grader just fell from ski jumping and got a concussion over the weekend. Luckily he’s going to be fine, and his parents are both doctors so they totally know what to do, but I feel the same. I need info in the eventuality that I may be in this situation (knock on wood, hopefully not!). I’m glad your son is ok!

  2. Mia, thanks for sharing. As a hockey mom I have seen many concussions over the years. Kudos for helping to raise awareness of the symptoms.

    Posted by Charlotte

    From my LinkedIn Group Boston Professional Moms

  3. Charlotte,
    It’s completely my pleasure. I need this for myself too! My kids just started snow sports! Concussions are scary and I see them even on my kids’ soccer fields.

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