Skateboarding is a popular activity, particularly among children and teenagers, but it carries a high risk of injury. Sprains, strains, scrapes, and fractures are common among avid skateboarders, even if they are experienced. Injuries aren’t just limited to the arms and legs, either. Without the proper precautions, skateboarders risk concussions and spine injuries. Let’s look at the most common head and back injuries among skateboarders and how they can be prevented.
Common (But Dangerous) Skateboarding Injuries
An extreme sport like skateboarding often results in a lot of hard falls. Depending on how a person lands, these falls can result in head, neck, and back injuries. Concussions are one of the most common, and also most serious, skateboarding injuries. Kids and teenagers often do not wear the proper protective gear, including helmets, and that leaves them susceptible to injury. Younger children are particularly susceptible, as they are usually less experienced and lack the skills and coordination to properly break a fall. This results in an increased likelihood of head injuries.
If your child falls and hits his head while skateboarding, make sure he is properly evaluated for a concussion. Look for the signs of a concussion. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, loss of consciousness, loss of memory, confusion, irritability, difficulty communicating, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty sleeping. If even one of these symptoms is present, you should seek medical attention immediately. It’s also important to note that symptoms may not be present until hours or days after the injury, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your child. When in doubt, always seek medical attention and have your child discontinue skateboarding until he has been cleared by a doctor. It’s better to err on the side of caution in this case. An untreated concussion can lead to permanent damage.
Because skateboarders often make hard landings on their feet or buttocks, either from jumping or falling, they are also risking injury to the vertebrae and discs in the spine. The vertebrae can fracture as the result of the force from a fall. Typical symptoms of a vertebral fracture include a sudden onset of back pain, pain that is made worse by walking or standing and better while lying down, and in some cases, instability. The majority of spinal fractures are stable, which leads many to mistake the injury for general back pain or a muscle strain. If your child is experiencing back pain that wasn’t present before the fall, he should receive medical attention.
Safety is Important
Skateboarding is an extreme sport, which makes it impossible to prevent all injuries. However, there are safety measures that can lessen the likelihood of injury. Protective gear is very important, especially for skateboarders who perform tricks. This includes a helmet, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads. The helmet needs to fit properly and should be up to the standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It should sit low on the forehead and have straps that form a “V” shape around each ear and fasten under the chin. The buckle should fasten securely, so that there is only room for two fingers between the strap and the chin. The helmet should not move or shift in any way when shaking the head. It’s also important to make sure the skateboard is in good working order and suited to your child’s level of ability. There should be no broken or cracked parts.
The environment is also an important factor. You should not skateboard on an irregular surface, and the area should be free of debris and cracks. Do not skateboard on a homemade ramp. If your child wants to use ramps, try a skate park with professionally designed ramps. If your child wants to do skateboarding tricks, make sure there is adult supervision in case of an accident. Skateboarding is a difficult sport to master, and you should never try a trick outside of your skill level without first mastering more basic skills. You may also want to look into skateboarding lessons for your child so that you can be sure he is learning the correct techniques.
Extreme sports like skateboarding can cause injuries, but we can lessen the likelihood of more serious injuries happening if we take the proper precautions.