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CPSC on Skaters' Safety Equipment

Summary: Back in 1997, CPSC published an article on skate safety equipment.

Consumer Product Safety Review

Spring 1997

In-line Skating and Safety Gear

Using CPSC data, researchers recently showed the effectiveness of safety gear in preventing injuries to in-line skaters through a national epidemiological study.

In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, [1] researchers reported that wearing wrist guards and elbow pads reduced the risk of injury to those body parts by over 80%. Knee pads reduced the risk of knee injury by about one-third.

The study, by researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and CPSC, was based on data gathered from hospital emergency rooms using CPSC's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

A sample of 161 injured in-line skaters was selected for in-depth interviews. A typical injury occurred when a beginning skater fell on outstretched hands. Wrist injuries accounted for about one-third of all injuries.

In this study, the sample of in-line skaters wearing helmets was too small to be conclusive. Studies elsewhere, however, have found that helmets can reduce the risk of bicycle-related head injury by up to 85% [2]

About 100,000 in-line skaters were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 1995. These figures reflect a dramatic increase from the 37,000 such injuries treated in 1993. [3]

George W. Rutherford, Jr., M.S.,

Directorate for Epidemiology and Health Sciences

Consumer Product Safety Commission


[1] Schieber RA, Branche-Dorsey CM, Ryan GW, Rutherford GW, et. al. Risk factors for injuries from in-line skating and the effectiveness of safety gear. N EnglJ Med 1996;335:1630-35.

[2] Thompson RS, Rivara FP, Thompson DC. A case-control study of the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. N Engl J Med 1989;320:1361-7.

[3] CPSC. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).