Precautions can reduce injuries as skateboarding becomes more popular in Grand County |

Precautions can reduce injuries as skateboarding becomes more popular in Grand County

Jeff Russell PTAlpine Physical Therapy & Wellness Center, PC

Skateboarding is a form of recreation that has seen intermittent periods of popularity since the 1960s and currently is experiencing growth worldwide. This urban art has reached our recently rural but growing-more-urban valley with increased access to smooth pavement, several skateboard parks and a skateboard store.Millions of people across the country most under the age of 25 take part in skateboarding or in-line skating. With this increase in popularity, injuries are bound to occur. Some knowledge about what injuries could be anticipated will help parents guide their children safely through participation in this burgeoning activity.Most injuries from skateboarding occur when the skateboard strikes an irregularity in the riding surface. Other common accidents arise from skaters going too fast for the conditions, colliding with an object, attempting to skate over an obstacle, or missing an attempt at performing a trick (all of which could be categorized as losing control of their board). Deaths are rare; just 36 fatalities since 1992. The vast majority of fatalities occur from vehicular collisions.One third of skateboard injuries occur within the first week of picking up the sport. Head injuries account for 3.5 percent to 11 percent of skateboarding injuries, while 30 percent to 40 percent of injuries are to the hand and wrist. If we include arms and shoulders with the hands, approximately 66 percent of injuries would be included in this category. Most of the upper extremity injuries involve either the further end of the radius, or a bone at the base of the hand, called the scaphoid. Scaphoid fractures account for 10 percent of all skateboarding fractures, are otherwise rare in children, and if left untreated can result in non-union of the broken bone, which would mean a prolonged period of pain and limited use of the hand.A disproportionate number of head injuries occur in children less than 5 years of age. Contributing factors include a high center of gravity, underdeveloped movement skills with limited ability to break falls with their arms and legs, immature skeletal development and poor judgment. Because of this, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 5 should not skateboard. They further recommend that children from 6 to 10 years of age should skateboard only with close adult supervision.While injuries cannot be entirely prevented, proper pads have been shown to reduce wrist and elbow injuries by 85 percent and knee injuries by 32 percent.To lessen the severity of injuries, the National Safety Council recommends using closed, slip-resistant shoes, helmets, padding for hands and wrists, knees, and elbows. The National Safety Council also offers the following skateboarding tips: Give your board a safety check each time before you ride. Always wear safety gear. Never ride in the street. Obey the city laws. Observe traffic and areas where you can and cannot skate. Don’t skate in crowds of non-skaters. Only one person per skateboard. Never hitch a ride from a car, bicycle, etc. Don’t take chances; complicated tricks require careful practice and a specially designated area. Learn to fall practice falling on a soft surface or grass. If a fall is imminent, to reduce injury, crouch low on the board getting low to the ground so there’s not as far to fall, and try to roll.An investment on a full padding package is far less in cost than a trip to the emergency room. Ultimately, it is the individual’s responsibility to stay in control. Doing so will not only keep the skateboarder safer, it will also reduce other bike-path user conflicts.

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