Skateboarding has resurged and so have its associated hazards and injuries. There are an estimated 8 million skateboarders now in the United States.1 Pediatricians informed about skateboard activities in their areas can help prevent needless injuries to children and adolescents.

During the last skateboard injury epidemic, the annual incidence of injuries peaked at 150 000 in 1977 and subsequently decreased to 16 000 in 1983. It is likely that this decrease in injuries was primarily related to decreased skateboard activity and not to improved safety conditions. With increased popularity the number has risen, with an estimated 56 435 injuries being treated in emergency departments in 1992.1 In addition, an estimated 1900 hospitalizations occurred due to skateboard-related injuries during this period. The vast proportion of admissions were from head injuries.2

Analysis of Consumer Product Safety Commission data from 1991 indicates the following salient features of the current outbreak of skateboard injuries during this period3:

• 95% involved skateboarders younger than 25 years; 61% involved 5- to 14-year-olds;

• 87% of victims were male;

• 74% of injuries involved the extremities—usually fractures of radius and ulna, 21% to the head and neck, and 5% to the trunk;

• severe injuries (intracranial, internal) were uncommon, moderate injuries (long bone fractures) were most common, and deaths occurred almost always from collisions with motor vehicles;

• younger victims incurred a higher proportion of head and neck injuries than older victims—head injury occurred in 75% of the victims in the 0- to 4-year-old age group, 50% in the 5- to 9-year-old group, and 15% in the 10- to 19-year-old category;

• head injuries in the older age groups were more severe because of collisions with motor vehicles; and

• helmets designed for skateboarding are seldom worn but will protect skateboarders from serious head injury; data on the protective value of elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards are inconclusive; they may reduce injury severity. The use of bicycle or hockey helmets has not been evaluated.4,5

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