It’s All in the Wrist

Next time your child heads off to school on inline skates, you need to add a tag to your usual call. “Do you have your helmet on?” now should be followed by “What about your wrist guards?” By wearing them, your child may be 10 times less likely to break his wrist.

So reports the New England Journal of Medicine in the latest and one of the largest studies yet to put mangled wrists at the top of inline skating injuries. Kids who get off balance tend to break their falls, and wrists, by stretching out their arms. These bad breaks could’ve been prevented by protective gear and a lesson or two in blading techniques, says the study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For 8 months, injury-prevention experts surveyed 161 bladers — mostly school-age children — whose skating spills had landed them in hospital emergency rooms. A third of these skaters had hurt their wrists, most often breaking them — and hardly any of them had been wearing wrist guards. All told, wrist injuries occurred 10 times more often in bladers who skated without their splints (New England Journal of Medicine, November 28, 1996). Still, protective gear can’t make up for lousy skating. In the CDC study, six or more lessons in smart blading maneuvers helped cut down on accidents by as much as 80%.

Some practice and preparation should be done before skaters just take off into the streets,” says John Sarwark, MD, an associate professor of orthopedics at Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago. Newer bladers should learn to crash in grass before they hit the roads, he says, and should learn to always look for a safe place to bail. Don’t even think about street skating until you’ve mastered control, he says.

Even kids who mostly keep things under control can take spills, so Dr. Sarwark offers this crash tip: Teach your child to assume a “Superman in flight” pose, with her arms stretched toward the horizon, and coach her to hit the ground with her wrist guards’ bumpers. Doing this can diffuse the impact on her wrists — as well as defuse a potentially nasty accident.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.