Street-Skating Injuries Are on the Rise

ByABC News via logo
October 9, 2002, 8:40 PM

Oct. 10 -- The popularity of street skating performing complex stunts while skateboarding in the streets has been rising fast among children, with magazines, video games and hundreds of videotapes and DVDs devoted to the sport.

Traditional skateboarders used ramps and skate parks, but street skaters pride themselves on peforming tricks in public places. There are even professional street-skaters who compete in extreme sporting events such as this year's X Games.

But the Journal of Trauma has published a study today attributing the rise of skateboarding-related injuries to the popularity of street skating.

Researchers and safety advocates are concerned because many street-skaters do not wear any safety gear while performing street stunts like riding skateboards down stairs in public places.

Dr. Flaura Winston, a pediatrician and researcher with the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia who led the study, was in disbelief when she saw some of the moves involved in street skating.

"My first was reaction was, 'Oh my God I can't believe they're out there without any gear on at all,'" Winston said. "'They're going to have injuries.'"

Bigger Than Baseball

In the 1990s, the sport transitioned from a 1980s-style known as "vert" in which skateboarders used 10-foot-high ramps in areas designed for skateboarding to street skating.

Winston's team reported that skateboarding injuries in the past few years have been increasing at an alarming rate. Between 1998 and 2001, injuries increased by an average of 16,500 per year. In 2001, more than 100,000 people, ages 7 years and older, visited an emergency room for skateboard-related injuries.

Winston attributes the huge jump in injuries to the rising popularity of street skating.

For teenagers, skateboarding is bigger than baseall. Last year, 10.6 million children under the age of 18 got on a skateboard, compared to 8.2 million who played baseball, American Sports Data reported. Many of those children are using the boards for street skating.