New York—July 22, 2011
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:
“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.