In-line skaters could save themselves significant pain and suffering if more of them wore wrist guards and elbow pads, according to a study published in the November 27, 1996, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study stated that 22.5 million people used in-line skates in 1995, an increase of 79% from 1993. During that same period the number of injuries serious enough to require emergency care increased 169%, to an estimated 99,500. According to the study, about 40,000 of those injuries could have been prevented if all skaters wore wrist guards and elbow pads.
Richard A. Schieber, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led the study, which looked at 161 in-line skating accidents in 1993. Wrist injuries were most common, accounting for 32% of the injuries. Another 13% of the injuries were to the lower leg, including the ankle; 12% were to the face or chin; 9% to the elbow; 6% to the knee; 5% to the head; and 23% to other parts of the body.
Schieber told the Associated Press that injury typically occurred to a beginner wearing little or no padding. Almost half the injured people, 45%, were wearing no pads when they were injured. Only 7% were wearing wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet.
One-third of the injured people were wearing wrist guards when they were injured, and 28% were wearing elbow pads. Those who did not wear wrist pads and elbow pads were 10 times as likely to injure their wrists or elbows as those who wore the protection.
Schieber said that helmets and knee pads were probably effective at preventing injuries, but that there were too few head and knee injuries in his study to know how much protection helmets and knee pads provided.