Not protecting your noggin? Get your head in gear!

by Hennepin Healthcare


Before you hit the slopes this winter, the Traumatic Brain Injury Center at HCMC reminds skiers and snowboarders to “Get Your Head in Gear!”  Getting in gear means putting helmets on those heads to reduce the risk for brain injury.  Starting this Saturday and continuing throughout the winter, HCMC will be at various Twin Cities ski slopes providing information to skiers and snowboarders about the importance of wearing a helmet.  You can find details about these special events, and information about the best winter head protection, at

“Maybe you’re the best skier or snowboarder in the world, but there are others on the hill who might run into you at high speeds — so you should always wear a helmet,” explains Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist Dr. Brionn Tonkin. And besides, who doesn’t look good in a helmet?

Competitive snowboarder Dylan Ludovissie is very much aware of the value of a helmet after not wearing one and suffering several hits to the head. Dylan will be making appearances at the weekend events at area ski slopes.

“The risk factors scared me into wearing one,” he said. “Like if you experience a head injury, you might not be the same afterward.” You can read more about Dylan’s story at

“A lot of people think that you have to be knocked out to have a brain injury or head injury and that’s not true,” explains  Dr.  Tonkin. “They fall down and hit their head, feel a little dizzy — or even say that they ‘saw stars.’  These can certainly be signs of a mild head injury. One of the most common symptoms, however, is headaches right after the fall — or even days, weeks or months after the fall.”

Dr. Tonkin also  says that changes in sleep patterns, like not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, or mood changes or anxiety can indicate that you may have experienced a brain injury. Other symptoms can include memory loss or word- finding issues.

In addition to its protective qualities, wearing a helmet this winter can also help skiers and snowboarders win prizes at HCMC-sponsored  events at various local ski destinations.  Representatives from HCMC’s Traumatic Brain Injury program and other sponsors will be at each Snow Jam with games and prizes including Timberwolves tickets and ski helmet giveaways.  Skiers and snowboarders “caught” wearing a helmet by the ski patrol will get a coupon for Dairy Queen. Ski patrol will also have information to provide to skiers who fall, explaining the signs and symptoms of a brain injury.

The first Snow Jam  is  Saturday, December 29 from 10 AM to 1 PM at Buck Hill in Bloomington. It’s free and the first 90 people to register will get into a rail jam competition. Register for any of the Snow Jam rail events through the link at

Get your head in gear — because safety has never been “snow” much fun!