Teen skaters, snowboarders often eschew safety gear

By Tom Nordlie • Published: May 27th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s easy to see why teenagers enjoy inline skating, skateboarding and snowboarding.

It’s great fun speeding down hills and pulling gravity-defying aerial maneuvers.

Problem is, gravity always has the last word, and crashes are inevitable.

That translates to thousands of emergency-room visits each year.

Safety gear, including helmets, pads and wrist guards, can prevent or reduce injuries.

But it won’t help if it isn’t used.

And, according to a study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, many youngsters don’t.

Researchers surveyed more than three-hundred teenagers into skateboarding, snowboarding and inline skating.

The scientists asked how often they wore several common safety gear items.

For every item, at least sixty percent of respondents indicated a low rate of use. That meant they never used it, used it rarely or only donned it when required.

Girls, who made up one-third of the respondents, gave virtually the same responses as boys.

Kids who avoided gear usually said they did so because it was uncomfortable or unnecessary.

Those who wore safety gear usually said they were forced into it by their parents or the facilities they used.

Which brings up an important point… the power of nagging.

Every parent knows, sometimes kids have to be protected from themselves.

So if your teen lives to carve up hillsides or half pipes, be the wet blanket.

If you insist they gear up before they get radical, you increase the odds they’ll be coming home healthy.