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As winter sets in, brain injuries a risk in Montana

A registered nurse at St. Patrick's Hospital in Missoula recently pointed out in the Missoulian that traumatic brain injuries typically occur more frequently in the summer months. Montanans and people throughout the country like to go outside and enjoy the nice weather, sometimes taking part in activities that unfortunately result in injury.

Still, Montanans need to be aware that the winter months are also a busy time for brain injury trauma centers. With the snow comes the possibility of falling on a slick surface. Winter sports such as snowboarding and skiing also pose a risk, as do car accidents on icy roads. And unfortunately, some residents and businesses neglect to make public areas safe for walking.

In short, the risk of injury during the winter months is real, and Montanans may need to take legal action if they suffer a brain injury because of another party's negligence.

Each year, about 1.7 million individuals experience traumatic brain injuries. In fact, nearly one-third of all the fatal injuries in the United States involve a brain injury. This kind of injury can also cause permanent disability, but it's important to remember that not every brain injury is so severe.

About 75 percent of brain injuries can be categorized as concussions. However, when a person suffers a second head injury when a concussion hasn't fully healed, he or she could experience second-impact syndrome, which is life-threatening.

To prevent concussions and more severe brain injuries, skiers and snowboarders are advised to wear helmets; drivers have to exercise due caution; and homeowners and businesses should shovel their sidewalks, parking lots and any other surface that could accumulate ice and snow and cause injury to another person.

Source: Missoulian, "Nurse's Notes: Traumatic brain injury remains risk in winter," John Bleicher, Nov. 5, 2012

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