Skateboarding Safety (cont.)

Hawk said, "I wear helmets for protection after being knocked unconscious more than six times in my career. You never know what can happen, especially when you're starting out. I could have easily died without one."

Nick only rides his skateboard short distances now and wears a helmet. He's doing physical and speech therapy while he recuperates.

The American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines for skateboarding recommend that kids under 10 shouldn't use skateboards without supervision and children under five should not use boards at all.

Skateboarding is a special risk for young children because they have a higher center of gravity and poor balance. These factors make children more likely to fall and injure their heads.

Protective gear, such as closed, slip-resistant shoes, helmets, and specially designed padding, may not fully protect skateboarder from fractures, but the National Safety Council recommends its use to reduce the number and severity of injuries. The Council gives these tips for safe skateboarding:

  1. Never ride in the street.
  2. Don't take chances. Complicated tricks require careful practice and a specially designed area. Only one person per skateboard. Never hitch a ride from a car, bus, truck, bicycle, etc.
  3. Learning how to fall in case of an accident may help reduce your chances of being seriously injured. If you are losing your balance, crouch down on the skateboard so that you will not have so far to fall. In a fall, try to land on the fleshy parts of your body. If you fall, try to roll rather than absorb the force with your arms. Even though it may be difficult, during a fall try to relax your body rather than stiffen.

"The bottom line," says Dr. Mesiwala, "is that it's great that people are going out and enjoying activities such as skateboarding. They can have fun doing them but everyone needs to stop and take a moment to realize that professionals do these sports every day and even they wear helmets. Anytime you're going to participate in sports activities you need to do things that maximize your ability to have fun again and again. With today's affordable and fashionable helmets, there's no excuse for not taking 30 seconds to put one on."

Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center press release, January 5, 2004

Last Editorial Review: 1/7/2005

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