Avoid head injuries during summer

The arrival of warm weather means taking up our summer activities again, such as cycling and swimming. Although they are pleasant, they also involve certain health risks, such as brain injuries. Learn to follow certain safety rules to enjoy summer without any headaches!

What is brain injury and what are the causes?

The term brain injury refers to damage caused to certain areas of brain tissue. In some cases, this type of injury is the result of a blow to the head. However, other factors than trauma may be the cause, such as a tumor or blood clot, for example.

The risk of having traumatic brain injury is present within the scope of several summer activities such as:

  • soccer;
  • football;
  • baseball;
  • cycling;
  • rollerblade;
  • skateboarding;
  • swimming or diving.

A head injury may be minor, but it can also turn out to be serious, like in the case of a concussion or a skull fracture.

A concussion is one of the most common brain injuries. It occurs when the brain is shaken due to trauma to the head or neck. A fall or a blow to the head (impact by a ball or stick, for example) can cause a concussion.

A skull fracture occurs when one of the bones that protect the brain is affected. This may include bleeding in, or swelling of the brain.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of brain injury may largely vary in nature and intensity. Among other things, they depend on the area that was injured and its severity. Sometimes, with no obvious consequence, brain injuries may lead to temporary after-effects and other times long-term (sometimes irreversible) ones. In some very serious and fortunately rare cases, they can even result in death.

Here are a few examples of symptoms that can be noted following brain injury, such as a concussion:

  • nausea or vomiting;
  • a change in behaviour;
  • headaches;
  • dizziness;
  • convulsions;
  • loss of feeling;
  • ringing\buzzing in the ears;
  • difficulty speaking;
  • pain in the eyes or vision loss;
  • memory loss;
  • confusion;
  • loss of consciousness.

The presence of one or several of these symptoms requires an immediate medical evaluation. In the case of head injury, even if it is considered minor, it is appropriate to observe the person for 24 hours following the accident. If you aren’t sure what to do following a head injury, talk to a health professional as soon as possible. He/she will be able to guide you in terms of the care that should be given to the injured person.

In all cases, it is important to see a doctor as soon as a concussion or skull fracture is suspected.

Brain injury prevention: wearing a helmet

A great number of Canadians don’t wear helmets when using a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades or roller scooter. Yet, wearing a helmet is easily accessible and highly effective to reduce the risk of brain injury. It’s important to choose a good quality helmet and to wear it when doing an activity that involves risk.

The helmet you choose should be well-fitting. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from the salesperson to make sure it’s the right size. For growing children, it’s important to check this every year and to replace the helmet when needed.

In fact, a helmet must be replaced following a serious impact (it is not designed to resist to several impacts) or if it shows signs of wear such as cracks or bumps. A helmet should be systematically replaced every five years for optimal protection.

Safety starts at home

If you want to do some outdoor activities in your backyard, like swimming or jumping on a trampoline, make sure these structures are safe. Installations that are poorly maintained or that do not comply with safety standards increase the risk of accidents.

Regarding swimming:

  • Make sure that area around the pool is clean and free of any objects that could increase the risk of a fall.
  • Never run around the pool to avoid slipping.
  • Avoid diving into the pool head first; most residential pools are not deep enough to do this safely.
  • If you jump into the water, make sure you are far enough from the edge of the pool to avoid knocking your head.

If you wish to install a trampoline, place a safety net around it to prevent falls. Only one person at a time should use the trampoline. Also, children should be supervised while playing on it.

Other safety tips

Here are more practical tips to reduce the risk of head injuries:

  • When travelling by car, wear a seat belt at all times and have your children do so as well.
  • Preach by example! Children tend to emulate adult behavior. If you don’t wear a helmet while you cycle, it is unlikely that your children will want to wear one! If they see you dive into the pool head first, they will likely want to do the same.
  • As a parent or sports coach, make sure to emphasize the rules and techniques of safe play. Moreover, favour a friendly atmosphere rather than a competitive one and demand respect between players and have them follow game rules.

The return of summer is a good opportunity to participate in a number of family activities or with friends. However, good times will be quickly spoiled if someone has a brain injury or any other injury. Therefore, it’s important to have a responsible attitude to avoid any injuries. By having a good head on your shoulders, you will enjoy summer and stay safe!

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Avoid head injuries during summer

The arrival of warm weather means taking up our summer activities again, such as cycling and swimming. Although they are pleasant, they also involve certain health risks, such as brain injuries. Learn to follow certain safety rules to enjoy summer without any headaches!
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