Objective: To describe the estimated frequency and types of injuries associated with in-line skates in U.S. children and to compare in-line skating injuries to rollerskating injuries.
Design: National case series.
Setting: Emergency departments of hospitals participating in the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
Patients: Persons with injuries associated with the use of in-line skates or rollerskates reported to the USCPSC in 1992 and 1993.
Results: There were an estimated 66,465 injuries associated with in-line skates; the incidence of injury was highest in children 11 and 12 years old. An estimated 40,730 in-line skate injuries involved children < 20 years old. The mean age of injured children was 11.8 years (median, 12 years); 68% were boys. Fractures (45%) were the most common injury; 66% of fractures involved the distal forearm. Five percent had head injuries. Two and one half percent required hospital admission; 90% of children admitted had a fracture and 11% had a head or face injury. There were an estimated 147,928 rollerskating injuries among children < 20 years old; the mean age was 10.5 years (median 10 years) (P < 0.001 vs in-line skates). Thirty-two percent were to boys (P < 0.001 vs in-line skates). Fractures were the most common injury; forearm fractures accounted for 72% (P < 0.001 vs in-line skates). Five percent had head injuries. One and one half percent were admitted to the hospital (P < 0.001 vs in-line skates). In 1993, the injury rate among children for in-line skates was 31/100,000, and the injury rate for rollerskates was 95/100,000.
Conclusions: Injuries associated with in-line skates are highest among preadolescents. Injuries associated with in-line skate use are less common than injuries associated with rollerskate use. Distal forearm fractures are the most common injuries related to both in-line skate and rollerskate use. Exposure data and analysis of the efficacy of protective gear, including wrist guards and helmets, are needed.