Skateboarding Injuries Remain an Epidemic Among Children and Adolescents Interview with:

Dr. Lara B. McKenzie PhD MA Principal Investigator Center for Injury Research and Policy The Research Institute Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Dr. Laura McKenzie

Dr. Lara B. McKenzie PhD MA
Principal Investigator
Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Research Institute
Nationwide Children’s Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. McKenzie: Skateboarding is a popular recreational sport and participation has increased the last several decades, faster than any other sport or recreation activity between 1998 and 2007 (National Sporting Goods Association Sports Participation in 2007). With growing participation, has come an increasing rate of injuries from skateboarding.

The study examined data for youth and adolescents 5-19 years of age who were treated in U.S. emergency departments (EDs) for skateboarding-related injuries from 1990-2008. It found that nationally, over the 19-year period, there was an average of 64,572 children and adolescents treated each year for skateboarding-related injuries – about 176 a day.

Most patients were male (89 percent), and were injured either at home (38 percent) or in the street and/or highway (30 percent). The most commonly injured body regions were the upper (45 percent) and lower (32 percent) extremities. The most common diagnoses were fractures or dislocations (33 percent), sprains and strains (25 percent) and bruises (20 percent). Children and adolescents 11-14 years of age were hospitalized more often than younger or older children/adolescents. Lower extremity injuries increased with age, while face and head or neck injuries decreased with age. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. McKenzie: Skateboarding can be a fun recreational and competitive activity. However, wheeled sports that require balance and take place on hard surfaces are more likely to result in higher rates of injury. Keep your patients safer by recommending they wear protective gear like helmets, wrist guards, elbow and knee pads. Here are some other tips to share with your patients to help prevent injuries while skateboarding:

  • Safety first. Make it a rule that kids can’t step foot on the skateboard unless they are wearing a helmet, wrist guards, elbow, and knee pads. If kids pick out protective gear they like they will be more likely to wear it.
  • Plan your route. Be aware of uneven riding surfaces like cracks and potholes. Many injuries happen on the street so avoid riding in or near traffic. Skateboard parks are a great place to ride without having to worry about cars.
  • Check outside. If it is dark or the weather is bad find another activity until the weather clears up and it is light outside.
  • Age appropriate. Most children are not coordinated enough to skateboard until they are at least 6 years old. If your children are between 6-10 years old, make sure they have an adult with them every time they ride.
  • More than just skateboards. Follow these tips for skateboards, longboards, wave boards, Ripstiks, and other skateboard-like devices. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. McKenzie: Further research using more rigorous study designs is required to develop a broad perspective of the incidence and determinants of injury, and to further identify risk factors and viable injury countermeasures while simultaneously promoting participation in skateboarding.

Additionally, as skateboarding continues to remain popular and evolve, it would be interesting to look at injury trends over a longer period of time and/or with more recent data.


Epidemiology of skateboarding-related injuries sustained by children and adolescents 5-19 years of age and treated in US emergency departments: 1990 through 2008

Lara B. McKenzi Erica Fletcher, Nicolas G. Nelson, Kristin J. Roberts and Elizabeth G. Klein
Injury Epidemiology20163:10

DOI: 10.1186/s40621-016-0075-6
Received: 22 December 2015 Accepted: 8 March 2016 Published: 8 April 2016

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Last Updated on April 18, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD