Objective: To determine the use of protective equipment, reasons for nonuse of protective equipment, and patterns of injury, falls, and stopping techniques of recreational in-line skaters.
Participants: 313 in-line recreational skaters observed skating in the parks, on bicycle trails, and on parkways in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Columbus, Ohio were asked to participate in a short survey in 1995.
Main outcome measurements: The frequency of in-line skater use of protective equipment, reasons for nonuse, patterns of injury, and patterns of falls.
Results: Protective equipment was worn most of the time in the following proportions of skaters [95% confidence interval in brackets]: wrist guards (51%) [44.7%-58.1%]; knee pads (36%) [29.3%-42.5%]; elbow pads (15%) [8.4%-22.8%]; and helmets (15%) [8.0%-22.0%]. Reasons cited for not using protective equipment included lack of perceived need (47.3%), discomfort (37.5%), cost (15.9%), and undesirable appearance (15.2%). Stopping techniques included skating off into the grass (14.6%) [11.8%-17.4%] and voluntarily falling (3.5%) [2.1%-4.9%]. Causes of involuntary falls included spontaneous loss of balance (32.9%) [28.9%-36.9%], hitting rocks or other small objects (17.3%) [14.4%-20.2%], uneven pavement (17%) [14.2%-19.8%], and failure to stop (11.3%) [8.4%-14.2%]. Site of initial impact after falling included the hands and wrists (44.6%) [38.3%-50.9%], the knees (19.6%) [16.4%-22.8%], and the buttocks region (17.2%) [14.3%-20.1%]. Injuries had occurred in 26% of the skaters; 14% of injuries were fractures.
Conclusions: In-line skaters often do not wear protective equipment because they believe it is not necessary. Recent studies have suggested, however, that protective equipment does prevent injuries. Physicians should counsel their patients who are in-line skaters to use protective equipment.