Untimely Tip - Helmets for Ice Skating Kids

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Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

July 9, 2004 -- July may not seem the ideal time of the year to provide tips about ice skating safety for children. But, according to a new report in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics, the proportion of head injuries among ice skaters is greater than for other types of skating for which helmet use is recommended and often required. Children who are going ice skating should therefore wear a helmet.

Mandatory helmet use by pediatric ice-skaters at indoor rinks should also be implemented, recommend Jennifer McGeehan and her colleagues at Ohio State and the Children's Hospital in Columbus.

The researchers advise that the use of other types of protective equipment, such as wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads, be considered for the prevention of injuries during ice skating. Caution should be used when allowing young children to participate in recreational ice skating.

The Study

Data for this study were obtained from the medical records of a consecutive series of children treated in the emergency department of a large children's hospital for injuries related to recreational ice skating, skateboarding, rollerskating, or in-line skating. This hospital is a tertiary care facility and a level 1 pediatric trauma center. Cases were included only if the child was directly involved in skating. For example, children who were hit by skates or run over by a skater but were not personally using skating equipment were excluded from the study.

The Analysis

The injuries the skaters suffered were analyzed according to the child's age and gender, the body region injured, and the type of injury. Information regarding the mechanism of injury, the product involved, the location of the injury event, the use of protective gear, and the presence of adult supervision was collected during the follow-up assessment if the information was not available in the patient's medical record.

Ice Skating versus Skateboarding

The data on the injured child skaters were analyzed every which way and subjected to statistical analysis. The following are example of some of the findings.

Most ice-skating injuries were to the face and head. Injuries to the face occurred in 23 of 60 cases (38%), including 16 injuries to the chin. Twelve of the 60 children (20%) had injuries to the head. Lacerations were the most common type of injury (25 of 60 cases or 42%). There were 20 soft-tissue injuries (33%) and 11 fractures (18%).

By contrast, the majority of skateboarding injuries (32.0%) were to an upper extremity, and the injuries were mainly to the hand and wrist (57.1%, 8 of 14 cases). The most common type of injury to skateboarders was a fracture (36.4%, 16 of 44 cases), followed by soft-tissue injury (31.8%, 14 of 44 cases) and laceration (25.0%, 11 of 44 cases).


We are favorably impressed by this study from Columbus, Ohio and congratulate the authors. More such studies are needed from other communities to learn more about how injuries occur to children who skate. With this knowledge, we can better steer skating children out of harm's way.


Children Should Wear Helmets While Ice-Skating: A Comparison of Skating-Related Injuries. Jennifer McGeehan, Brenda J. Shields, and Gary A. Smith. Pediatrics 2004; 114: 124-128.


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