Concussion Awareness This Winter

With snow season upon us, it’s important to realize the potential for head injury that comes with playing on the hill. According to a study from 2012, there are approximately 600,000 injuries per year related to skiing and snowboarding. Of those 600,000 injuries, 20% are head injuries. Treatment approaches following a head injury have progressed significantly over the past 5 years thanks to increased emphasis on athlete safety in sports like football, hockey, soccer, and especially winter sports. Gone are the days where a generic recommendation of “rest” is the proper treatment to head injuries.  Like injuries to any other part of the body, head injury assessment and treatment are unique to each individual and need to be addressed accordingly to the symptoms and deficits that each person experiences. Austin has specific training and skills to help assess and treat the physical, vestibular, and cognitive deficits that can occur following a head injury.

In a study published in 2023, Kiss-Bodolay and colleagues found that while helmet usage has increased by 100% since 1981-1993, data of head injuries has shifted from skull fractures and deaths to an increase in diffuse axonal (nerve) injury. The brain inside the skull has been compared to a raw egg, in that the skull is the shell and the yolk is our brain. When an impact occurs, there is the initial impact of the skull or shell with an object, but there is also the impact of the brain on the skull, or in this case, the yolk on the inside of the shell. This brain to skull impact can cause temporary damage which requires proper intervention in order to return to even the simplest tasks like driving or working on a computer. With these injuries common signs and symptoms include: concentration and memory complaints, irritability and personality changes, sleep disturbances, headache, dizziness, fatigue and more. These symptoms can be treated by your physical therapist!

It is very appropriate for anyone who may be participating in activities with a higher risk of head injury i.e. skiing, snowboarding, football, soccer, hockey, rugby, mountain biking, and gymnastics to come into the clinic for baseline testing.  Concussion baseline testing is crucial for pre and post injury comparison should a head injury occur during your sport. Austin will be offering this testing on an appointment basis and it only takes 15-20 minutes to complete. Activities like balance, vision tasks, short and long term memory, and information processing skills will be assessed. Having a baseline test is not mandatory for proper treatment and recovery following an accident, but is vital to serve as an objective measure following an injury in order to ensure full recovery and return to 100%!!!

Finally, it should be noted that if a head injury does occur, some of the testing discussed is most accurate and beneficial within the first 0-7 days following. If you or someone you know experiences a head injury this season please contact us for evaluation right away!

If you are interested in baseline concussion testing or experience any trauma to the head, please reach out to or schedule an appointment with Austin here:


Haider, A. H., Saleem, T., Bilaniuk, J. W., Barraco, R. D., & Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma Injury ControlViolence Prevention Committee (2012). An evidence-based review: efficacy of safety helmets in the reduction of head injuries in recreational skiers and snowboarders. The journal of trauma and acute care surgery, 73(5), 1340–1347.

Kiss-Bodolay, D., Papadimitriou, K., Simonin, A., Huscher, K., & Fournier, J. Y. (2023). Traumatic brain injury in alpine winter sports: Comparison of two case series from a Swiss trauma center 30 years apart. Journal of neurological surgery. Part A, Central European neurosurgery, 10.1055/a-2111-5771. Advance online publication.