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Heels with Wheels Send Kids Tumbling

About 1,600 emergency room visits last year, most of them in children, were attributed to the wheeled shoes, often sold under the popular brand name Heelys, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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By Christina Elston

Kids with roller shoes beware: Climbing the learning curve is tough with wheels on your heels.

Irish researchers studying roller shoe related injuries in Dublin during the summer of 2006 found that one in five of those injuries occurred when kids were trying their roller shoes for the first time. And more than one-third happened while children were still learning. Not one of the 67 injured children was wearing protective gear.

Here in the United States, about 1,600 emergency room visits last year, most of them in children, were attributed to the wheeled shoes, often sold under the popular brand name Heelys, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The Irish researchers, writing in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, recommended that parents pay special attention to novice skaters. And the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons posted new safety guidelines on its Web site. Their recommendations:

  • Learn the basic skills, particularly how to stop properly, before venturing out.
  • Wear a helmet, wrist protectors and knee and elbow pads.
  • Avoid rolling in crowded walkways.
  • Avoid rolling in traffic. If you come to a crosswalk, obey traffic signals, stay to the right, and don't weave in and out of crowds.
  • Heel on smooth surfaces, away from traffic.
  • Do not let a young child heel unsupervised.

Posted July 2007.

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    Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media.

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