> Skip repeated content

Young Skateboarders at Risk for Concussions and Fractures

Inspired by X-Games, experts at Hospital for Special Surgery provide tips for safe skateboarding

New York—July 22, 2011

Two-wheeled tricks and stunts will draw millions of viewers to ESPN’s 17th annual X-Games from July 28-31 in Los Angeles. But they may also land thousands of children - eager to replicate the stunts seen on television — in emergency rooms around the country with preventable injuries such as fractures, sprains and concussions.

While research from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that almost one-third of skateboarding injuries occur in beginners, experts at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York say the increasingly extreme nature of stunts performed by more experienced child and adolescent riders, coupled with improper use of protective equipment, is a major risk factor for injury.

“The number of young amateur skateboarders performing extreme stunts like freestyle skateboarding down high railings and stairwells is on the rise,” says Shevaun Mackie Doyle, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Extreme skateboarders aren’t the only ones getting injured; city kids who use skateboards as a primary mode of transportation are at high risk, too, says Dr. Doyle. In 2009 alone, nearly 75,000 skateboarding injuries were recorded – the majority of cases being children under the age of 15, almost a 25 percent increase since 2004, according to the CPSC and Safe Kids USA.

Not wearing proper protective equipment like wrist guards or a helmet is often to blame.

Dr. Doyle most frequently sees wrist and shin fractures caused by skateboarding falls, which can put riders out of commission for up to four weeks with a cast or splint. Head injuries, some potentially life-threatening, are another common skateboarding injury that typically occurs when a rider slips off the board either doing a trick or hitting uneven pavement, hitting his or her head on the ground.

“Falling as little as two feet can cause skull fracture and brain injury,” says Dr. Doyle.

Safe Kids USA estimates that wheeled sports such as bicycling, skateboarding and inline skating account for almost 50 percent of head injuries that occur in children engaged in recreational activities, including football and soccer.

These injuries are also common in BMX biking, another popular X-Games event, when young riders mimic the extreme antics seen on television in parking lots, parks or off-road. Flipping over handlebars can result in fracture and concussion.

As autumn fast approaches, Dr. Doyle reminds children not to imitate the extreme riders they see in the X-Games as they ride their skateboards back to school. She advises parents and children to keep the following tips in mind to prevent skateboarding injury:

  • Never let children under the age of 5 years old ride a skateboard; poor balance makes them especially susceptible to falls.
  • Younger skateboarders should try a tripod with two wheels in the front or a razor scooter with handle bars. These vehicles provide more stability and appropriate protection on level surfaces, making them a better form of transportation for city kids.
  • Perform tricks in a designated skate park with a controlled setting—wider, smoother and more level surfaces.
  • Wear appropriate gear—wrist and chin guards and a special helmet that covers the back of the head.
  • Wear protective equipment at all times, even for short bursts of activity like a trip to see a neighbor or the park just down the street.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and terrain changes. Dismount the skateboard and run through areas plagued by potholes, excessive rubble, gravel surfaces or crowds of people—carrying the skateboard under your arm.
  • Remain on the sidewalk at all times. Never ride in the road.
  • Don’t skateboard on rainy days—concrete can become slippery, creating a dangerous environment even for experienced skaters.
  • Maintain a balanced diet with calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong.

“Following these simple safety rules will help reduce preventable and potentially life-threatening injury to our children, making our streets, skate parks and playgrounds safer,” says Dr. Doyle.


About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the ninth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S.News & World Report (2018-2019). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic on musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.


Need Help Finding a Physician?

Call us toll-free at:

Conditions & Treatments

adult child
Select A Body Part
Conditions: Adult head Conditions: Adult spine Conditions: Adult shoulder Conditions: Adult elbow Conditions: Adult hand Conditions: Adult hip Conditions: Adult knee Conditions: Adult ankle Conditions: Adult head Conditions: Adult full body Conditions: Child spine Conditions: Child elbow Conditions: Child hip Conditions: Child hand Conditions: Child knee Conditions: Child ankle Conditions: Child full body

Conditions A-Z

Media Contacts

Tracy Hickenbottom
Monique Irons
Sherry Randolph


Social Media Contacts