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The Informed Parent

Skateboard and Scooter Injuries

by Peter W. Welty, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jun. 24, 2002

The past decade has shown a great increase in the use of skateboards and non-motorized scooters. In 1996, there were approximately 5.8 million children and adolescents younger than 18 years of age riding skateboards and scooters. Three-quarter of a million kids and teens did so weekly. With this rise in popularity, however, has come an increase in the number of injuries related to these activities. Skateboards or scooters injured approximately 51,000 kids in 1999.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 90% of those treated for skateboard or scooter injuries were boys. The ankle, wrist and face were the three most common areas harmed. Only 5% of the injuries were severe, usually with concussion or internal damage. Moderate impairments such as bone fractures or dislocations accounted for 31% of the injuries.

Of those children who were injured serious enough to be hospitalized, 25% of them were hit by a motor vehicle. A small number of those children required hospitalization, and for most cases, the hospitalization was for head injuries. Furthermore, it appears that most of the impairments involving skateboards and scooters occur more during the summer months.

Non-motorized scooters, with their recent increase in popularity, are inevitably another source of harm for the young rider. Preliminary data suggests that 94% of those injured are younger than 15 years old. Children younger than eight account for 31%. The majority of the physical inflections involving scooters include fractures, dislocations, and damage of the extremities, head and/or face.

Children and teens using skateboards or scooters have a higher rate of injury due to poor judgment of their own strength and skills. They may not understand vehicular traffic patterns. Because their center of gravity is higher than adults, their neuromuscular system is not well developed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has established recommendations on the use of skateboards and scooters:

  1. Children under age 10 should not use skateboards without the supervision of an adult or responsible teen. Children under 5 should not use skateboards at all.
  2. Skateboards should not be ridden near traffic.
  3. Holding onto the back of a moving vehicle while riding a skateboard should never be done.
  4. All skateboarders should wear protective helmets, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee guards.
  5. Skateboard parks should be used, instead of home-constructed ramps and jumps, because they generally are better built and monitored, and are separated from traffic and the street.
  6. Children younger than 8 should not ride scooters without adult supervision.
  7. Scooters should never be ridden at night or in the street.
  8. Children riding scooters should always wear protective helmets, kneepads and elbow pads.

Let’s hope that these guidelines help our young skateboarders and scooter riders enjoy a fun and injury-free summer!

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