Sports and Head Injuries: What You Need to Know

If traumatic brain injuries can occur so easily—and be so hard to identify—what precautions should we take while skiing, biking, or playing sports?


Our thoughts and prayers this week are with the family of Natasha Richardson, after the actress suffered a fatal brain injury while skiing in Canada. But its also left many of us wondering exactly how Richardson was hurt so badly—and whether its something that could happen to us.

Whats scary about Richardsons injury is that she didnt hit a tree or attempt any risky tricks; reports say she simply fell down and hit her head (without wearing a helmet) at the bottom of a beginners slope. Thats happened to me plenty of times while skiing, not to mention while biking, playing soccer, and yes, even once while tripping over a curb during a run.

If reports are correct, Richardson said she felt fine, was joking and laughing shortly after her fall, and insisted on walking back to her room instead of seeking medical care. And hours later, she was fighting for her life.

If traumatic brain injuries can occur so easily—and be so hard to identify—what precautions should we take while skiing, biking, or playing sports? And if we do get hurt, how do we know whether were in serious danger?
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Amanda MacMillan
Last Updated: March 18, 2009

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