5 Tips for Preventing Concussion in Skiing and Snowboarding

Featured, Parent Corner

What to know before hitting the slopes

Skiing and snowboarding can be great ways for families to bond in the wintertime, as the slopes can provide memories that will last for years to come. But it’s important to have concussion safety in mind to ensure everyone is both happy and safe. Knowing these best practices is particularly important if you or your child participates in skiing or snowboarding competitively.

Below, you’ll find a series of tips that will ensure everyone is as safe as possible when lacing up and hitting the mountains this season:

1. Get the proper equipment

Wearing right helmet and gear is key to preventing an injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers specific guidelines regarding protective equipment and helmets for skiing and snowboarding. Refer to these guidelines for specific information on fit and sizing. In general, helmets should fit snugly, with no space between the head and helmet.

A properly fitting helmet can reduce head injuries by between 30 and 50 percent, according to UPMC. In addition to fitting properly, a helmet should always be well-maintained, age-appropriate, worn consistently and certified for use. If you’re unsure about the fit, head to your local ski shop for an expert opinion and adjustment.

2. Purchase the right attire

When deciding on the best slope attire, you should first look for fabric that is both wind- and water-resistant, which can keep you warm during harsh winter weather. In addition, the National Ski Areas Association notes that you should purchase attire that has wind flaps for zippers, collars that can be fastened up to the chin, drawstrings that can keep out cold winds, and secured cuffs at the wrists and ankles.

Wearing the correct attire can help ensure you’re as safe as possible in the event of a fall or unpredictable weather conditions.

3. Take a lesson from a qualified instructor

This step is crucial if you or anyone you are with is new to the slopes. Taking a lesson from a qualified instructor can ensure you will be well on your way to becoming a good (and safe!) skier, according to the National Ski Protocol (NSP). Building the proper fundamentals will help you avoid bad habits that could lead to an injury now or in the future.

4. Be prepared for weather changes

Weather can be deceiving. It may appear sunny at first, but it can cool down rapidly—leading to icy conditions. The opposite can also happen: It might be very cold, and then the sun will pop out. Being prepared for these weather changes can ensure you are as safe as possible. Be sure to pack gloves, and a headband or hat so that you’re prepared for anything. You should also have goggles on hand, as well as sunglasses to avoid being blinded by sudden sunny conditions.

5. Know the U.S. Skiing concussion policy

If you or your child skis or snowboards competitively, you should review the concussion policy from U.S. Skiing. Reading the policy in full is a good idea for anyone who practices either sport competitively at any level. Worth noting is the policy’s requirement that anyone suspected of having a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, should be removed from play immediately and kept out of play until he or she has been cleared by a medical professional.

If you think you or someone you’re with might have sustained a concussion, stop activity immediately. Contact ski or snowboard patrol to remove you from the slope. For the latest information on concussion symptoms, treatment and more, visit the International Concussion Society’s resources library.