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Skateboard-Associated Injuries: Participation-Based Estimates and Injury Characteristics

Kyle, Susan B. PhD; Nance, Michael L. MD; Rutherford, George W. Jr., MS; Winston, Flaura K. MD, PhD

The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care: October 2002 - Volume 53 - Issue 4 - p 686-690
Original Articles

Background  Skateboarding is a popular recreational activity but has attendant associated risks. To place this risk in perspective, participation-based rates of injury were determined and compared with those of other selected sports. Skateboard-associated injuries were evaluated over time to determine participation-based trends in injury prevalence.

Methods  Rates of skateboard-associated injury were studied for the 12-year period 1987 to 1998 for participants aged 7 years or older. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System provided injury estimates for skateboarding and the selected additional sporting activities. The National Sporting Goods Association annual survey of nationally representative households provided participation estimates. A participation-based rate of injury was calculated from these data sets for the selected sports for the year 1998.

Results  The 1998 rate of emergency department–treated skateboard-associated injuries—8.9 injuries per 1,000 participants (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.2, 11.6)—was twice as high as in-line skating (3.9 [95% CI, 3.1, 4.8]) and half as high as basketball (21.2 [95% CI, 18.3, 24.1]). The rate of skateboard-associated injuries declined from 1987 to 1993 but is again increasing: the 1998 rate was twice that of 1993 (4.5 [95% CI, 1.6, 7.4] and 8.9 [95% CI, 6.2, 11.6], respectively). Increases occurred primarily among adolescent and young adult skateboarders. The most frequent injuries in 1998 were ankle strain/sprain and wrist fracture: 1.2 (95% CI, 0.8, 1.6) and 0.6 (95% CI, 0.4, 0.8) per 1,000, respectively. Skateboard-associated injuries requiring hospitalization occurred in 2.9% and were 11.4 (95% CI, 7.5, 17.5) times more likely to have occurred as a result of a crash with a motor vehicle than injuries in those patients not hospitalized.

Conclusion  This study is the first to relate skateboarding and other sport injuries to participation exposures. We found that skateboarding is a comparatively safe sport; however, increased rates of injury are occurring in adolescent and young adult skateboarders. The most common injuries are musculoskeletal; the more serious injuries resulting in hospitalization typically involve a crash with a motor vehicle. This new methodology that uses participation-based injury rates might contribute to more effective injury control initiatives.

From the Directorate for Epidemiology and Health Statistics, Consumer Product Safety Commission (S.B.K., G.W.R.), Bethesda, Maryland, and Department of Surgery (M.L.N.) and TraumaLink, Department of Pediatrics (F.K.W.), Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Submitted for publication September 4, 2001.

Accepted for publication May 10, 2002.

Address for reprints: Flaura K. Winston, MD, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 3535 TraumaLink, 10th Floor, 34th and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104; email:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.