Objective: To study injuries in young people associated with the use of rollerblades, draw comparisons with skateboarding and rollerskating injuries, and suggest strategies for injury prevention.
Methodology: Injuries associated with the use of rollerblades, skateboards and rollerskates in young people aged < or = 14 years recorded on the Victorian Injury Surveillance System database since its inception in 1989 were examined to identify secular trends. All injuries associated with these pastimes recorded on the database by three sentinel hospitals during a 1 year period were examined in detail. Medical notes were perused to verify features of the event and obtain further information. A semi-structured telephone interview of a sample of 10-14 year old rollerbladers, the most commonly injured age-group, was carried out to obtain more specific information.
Results: There has been a marked increase in the absolute numbers of injuries associated with the use of rollerblades since 1989. In 1992, they were most common in the 10-14 year age group, which sustained 59% of all injuries; 47% of injuries were fractures of the forearm and wrist. Of a sample of 33 of those injured in the 10-14 year age group, 10 (30%) had been using rollerblades for the first time. There is some evidence to suggest a concomitant fall in skateboarding injuries.
Conclusions: Injury surveillance data collected in Melbourne suggest an increasingly important contribution by rollerblading to the pattern of injury seen in young people. Preventive strategies require further evaluation but could include learning basic techniques in a controlled setting, separation from road traffic and the wearing of helmets and wrist, elbow and knee guards.