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Winter activities and concussions

Welcome back from spring break! Whether it's snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or sledding, outdoor and family activities are often at the heart of this week-long break in March. But be careful! Winter activities are not without risk of injury ...

Your child sets off on a sled and violently collides with someone, your sister slips and her head hits the ground, your friend lands badly on a snowboard and does several summersaults... Regardless of how it happened, if an impact force was taken to a person's head, unpleasant symptoms can ensue within minutes or hours of the trauma. Headaches, blurred vision, feeling light-headed, nausea, vomiting, dizziness… The term “concussion” or even “head trauma” quickly comes to mind. What to do?

First, don't panic! Your loved one's brain has suffered a traumatic injury and is currently in need of rest for 24 to 48 hours. The important thing will be to make sure that the symptoms do not increase in intensity the hours following the trauma. Your loved one should avoid prolonged use of screens, decrease their level of concentration (now is the time to take a break from homework!), and stop their physical activities.

Indeed, following a first impact, the brain is vulnerable and must be protected. If a second impact is sustained before there is time for the brain to recover, the trauma from both shocks could be equivalent to a severe concussion. It is therefore very important to put your physical activities on a break in order to allow the brain to rest and thus promote optimal healing. Now is the perfect time to take a nap!

On the other hand, remain vigilant and watch your loved one closely, because if the symptoms suddenly worsen (increasing headache, repeated vomiting, confusion, speech problems, etc.), a visit to the emergency room is in order.

When you have a severe concussion, you need to be able to conserve your strength so you can focus your energy on the more difficult tasks. Now is not the time to go to a party or go on a road trip! Activities that increase the symptoms experienced should be reduced. In the first few days, it is important to take breaks and respect your limits.

Interestingly, a concussion is more of a functional than a structural injury, in the sense that several symptoms can be present even in the absence of pathology visible on imaging such as a CT-scan.

But fear not, a concussion can be healed! After a rest period, a protocol for returning to class, returning to play or even returning to work can be slowly started under supervision.

Fortunately, your physiotherapist will be able to guide you adequately in the management of this type of injury! After 24 to 48 hours, a consultation with a physiotherapist expert in concussions will allow you to have an ideal, safe and optimal rehabilitation!

McCory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvorak J, et al. Br J Sports Med. Published Online First: 04-26-2017. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097699

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