In-line Skaters Not Wearing Protective Gear

This archived article is from July 2001. Although every effort has been made to make sure the information presented is accurate, please note that it may contain information that is out-of-date.

Approximately one million Canadians are in-line skating, and the numbers continue to grow. It provides an excellent cardiovascular workout and helps develop balance and coordination. But as the number of people in-line skating has increased, so have the number of injuries resulting from this activity. The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) has seen a steady rise in the number of children and youth treated for in-line skating injuries. From 1998 to 2002, 397 children and youth were seen for in-line skating injuries at CHEO. In addition to those children seen in CHEO and other local hospitals, many of these injuries are treated in doctors’ offices and walk-in clinics, or go unreported.

 According to a report by Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention program (CHIRPP), 962 in-line skating injuries were reported in the period of a year. About 60 per cent of injuries reported were experience by males and 10 –14 year olds. Half of these injuries were the result of a loss of control, leading to a fall, with no specific cause. Fractures represented about 48 per cent of all injuries. These numbers continue to grow as the amount of people who in-line skate increases.

Few in-line skaters wear protective gear even though the equipment is relatively inexpensive and can reduce the number and severity of injuries. A study by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation and the University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center found almost two-thirds of in-line skaters used no protective equipment when skating.

During July and August of 1999, 877 in-line skaters were observed in 15 British Columbia municipalities. The overwhelming majority wore no protective equipment whatsoever. Only 25 per cent wore wrist guards, 13 per cent wore helmets, 14 per cent wore elbow pads and 10 per cent wore knee pads. Overall, 36 per cent of skaters wore at least one piece of protective gear, while less than three per cent wore all four types.

The greatest proportion of in-line skaters was observed on recreational pathways (45 per cent); 32 per cent were observed in communities; 14 per cent were observed in neighborhoods; and 10 per cent were observed along main intra-city roadways.

The use of protective equipment varied according to skater location. Protective equipment was most frequently used by skaters on recreational pathways (42 per cent wore at least one piece of equipment). Skaters observed in neighborhoods were least likely to wear protective equipment (26 per cent wore at least one piece of equipment).

This study underscores the need to find ways to increase the use of protective gear by in-line skaters.