Healthy Living in the North

From snowboard to toboggan – have fun, protect your noggin!

Two snowboarders with helmets and goggles

From spring skiing to slippery sidewalks, just because the snow is melting and the weather is warming doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about slips, falls, and concussion risks!

From snowboarding to skating, biathlon to snowmobiling, cross-country skiing to snowshoeing, or curling to tobogganing – you name the winter sport and we got it! Being active and participating in sports and outdoor activities during winter is a fantastic way to stay healthy and happy. Whether you are a weekend enthusiast or you’ve been inspired by the Canada Winter Games athletes to try out a new sport, learn how to keep winter play fun, safe and injury-free.

Concussions have often been dismissed as “getting your bell rung,” a time to just shake it off and get back at it! However, in reality, a concussion is a brain injury that can cause a number of symptoms affecting the way you think or act. A repeat concussion that occurs while your brain is still healing from a previous concussion can cause long-term problems that may change your life forever.

How a concussion is handled in the minutes, hours and days following the injury can significantly influence the extent of damage and recovery time. Protect yourself and your loved ones:

Learn how to recognize a concussion

  • Any force that causes the brain to move around in the skull can cause a concussion.
  • Signs of a concussion may not appear immediately.
  • Most concussions do not include a loss of consciousness.
  • When in doubt, sit out! Take the time your brain needs to heal.

Know what to do if you suspect a concussion

  • Assess the individual for any visible cues, signs or symptoms like imbalance, memory loss, and changes in the way they appear to be thinking, feeling or acting.
  • Get medical help – any possible concussion should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Know how to manage a concussion

  • Rest is the best way to recover from a concussion – both physical and mental.
  • Follow the guidelines for Return to Learn and Return to Play to help achieve full recovery (available at

Spread the word!

  • Injuries are preventable. Tell others to help build awareness and understanding about preventing and managing concussion where you live, work, learn and play. Together we can make northern B.C. injury-free.

Visit for up-to-date and free concussion information, training and resources for parents, players, coaches, medical professionals and educators.

This article was first published in A Healthier You, a joint publication of Northern Health and the Prince George Citizen.

Shellie O'Brien

About Shellie O'Brien

Shellie grew up in rural Newfoundland and moved to B.C. in 2003. After graduating from the nursing program at Thompson Rivers University in 2007 she moved to Prince George to start her career. She has a passion for population and public health and is the Regional Lead for Sexual and Reproductive Health. After falling in love with the north she purchased a rural property and began to build her hobby farm and family. She enjoys the outdoors, animals, recreational dogsledding, reading, and healthy living. When not at work, she can be found happily doing something outside on her farm with her family.