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Acad Emerg Med. 1996 Apr;3(4):304-11.

A prospective study of in-line skating: observational series and survey of active in-line skaters--injuries, protective equipment, and training.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611-2914.



1) To assess the relationship between types of injuries incurred and training and protective equipment worn by adults injured while in-line skating; 2) to observe the type and amount of protective equipment worn by in-line skaters while skating; and 3) to survey active in-line skaters about formal training, protective equipment, and history of injuries incurred, and the effect of such injuries on the protective equipment subsequently worn.


A prospective study of consecutive adult patients presenting to the ED for evaluation of in-line skating injuries; a consecutive-series observational study of active in-line skaters to assess protective equipment worn; and a survey of selected active in-line skaters. Eighty-five adult patients were included who presented with a history of injury related to in-line skating to the EDs of an urban academic medical center, a suburban academic-affiliated hospital, and a community hospital. Four hundred eleven active in-line skaters on the Chicago lakefront were observed for protective equipment worn, 91 of whom participated in the survey.


Of those presenting to the ED with injuries, only 15% indicated that they had received formal in-line skating instruction. Of the ED patients, 50% wore no protective equipment; overall, 6% wore a helmet; 44%, wrist protection; 23%, knee protection; and 19%, elbow protection. Only 2% wore all of the above equipment. The primary mechanism of injury reported was a loss of balance (58%); others included collision with objects (25%), collision with bicycles (11%), and collision with cars (5%). Fractures or dislocations occurred in 48% of the patients; 6% had head injuries necessitating CT scans. Those who wore no protective gear were more likely to require hospital admission (p < 0.05). Of the 411 in-line skaters observed, 157 (38%) wore no protective equipment. Compared with the injured group presenting to the ED, fewer observed participants were without protection (p < 0.05). Among those surveyed, prior injury was not associated with the subsequent use of protective gear.


Patients who present to the ED for evaluation of in-line skating injuries have a high incidence of fractures/dislocations. Few injured or surveyed in-line skaters had formal training. Use of protective equipment by injured skaters was associated with a decreased likelihood of hospitalization. Observed in-line skaters more commonly wore protective gear than did those who presented to the ED with injuries.

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