Skateboarding has experienced intermittent periods of popularity since the 1960s. Along with this popularity, there have been concomitant increases in numerous types of injuries. Most documented cases occur in boys aged from 10 to 14 years, with injuries ranging from minor cuts and abrasions to multiple fractures and, in some cases, even death. Although head injuries account for approximately 3.5 to 9% of all skateboarding injuries, fractures of both upper and lower extremities account for 50% of all musculoskeletal trauma. Not surprising is the fact that 33% of those injured on skateboards are injured within the first week of skateboarding. Most individuals experience some form of trauma during the initial attempt at skateboarding.
Because of the nature of skateboarding, encompassing both high speed and extreme manoeuvres, injuries often occur when the skateboarder collides with an immovable object, falls from the skateboard or is involved in vehicular traffic. Most injuries occur when the skateboard strikes an irregularity in the riding surface, projecting the skateboarder in the direction of travel. Despite traffic legislation, 65% of injured adolescent skateboarders sustain injuries on public roads, on footpaths, and in parking lots.
Several organisations have recommended safety guidelines and restrictions based on age and common sense. Use of a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards should be required of all skateboarders, as well as some type of formal education. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 5 years of age should not be allowed to ride skateboards. At an early age, injuries occur due to several reasons. These include high centre of mass, immature skeletal development, an undeveloped neuromuscular system, and simply poor judgement. Skateboarding injuries are expected to rise with the increasing number of participants, high-tech equipment development and renewed advertising. Although limited preventative measures exist which will totally eradicate skateboarding trauma, some thought to actual restrictions may decrease the incidence and severity of injuries.