Skateboarding is a popular recreational activity that involves the use of skateboards to navigate through challenging obstacles that are constructed in the form of elaborate ramps and other skate structures.
Whether practised as a hobby or sport, there is an increasing need to better understand the risk of lower limb injuries associated with skateboarding as participation rates continue to rise around the world.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, about 52% of skateboard injuries involve children under the age of 15 years and happen when a child loses balance, falls off the skateboard and lands on an outstretched arm.
A detailed analysis of the epidemiology of skateboarding-related injuries sustained by children and adolescents was conducted from the year 1990 all through to 2008; the findings of the study can be helpful in the implementation of effective safety and protection strategies for young skaters.
The 19-year study period revealed that a majority of the injuries occurred in males, with notable differences in the types of injuries found in younger children and adolescents between the ages of 5-10 years.
The number of head or neck injuries were observed to decrease with age; participants who belonged to the 15-19 age bracket sustained significant lower extremity injuries especially ankle strains/sprains. These injuries commonly occur while performing maneuvers such as ‘ollie’ or ‘kick flip’.
These results demonstrate that a lack of experience or skill can make children susceptible to skateboarding injuries of the upper and lower extremity, making it necessary for a child below the age of 10 years to skateboard only under adult supervision.
Axibal et al. studied the pathophysiology of anterior tibial spine fractures in young patients and determined that outdoor sports such as skateboarding represent the third most common mechanism of these fractures.
For this purpose, the authors advocate preventive measures such as neuromuscular training and avoidance of early sports specialisation to mitigate the risk of injury in activities such as skateboarding.
Another interesting observation from the study was the fact that both taller and older patients sustain less severe anterior tibial spine fracture types; variations in anatomic proportions around the knee lead to different forces across the anterior cruciate ligament and tibial eminence.
Injury-prevention programmes for skateboarding need to consider individual factors such as age, sex, level of experience, previous injury and foot postural disparities; the latter is essential for protecting an individual from an increased predisposition to injuries of the lower extremity.
Other factors, as outlined by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, include – use of proper protective gear, choice of a safe environment, appropriate skateboard, good technique and staying in top physical condition.
A thorough gait assessment is recommended to help identify not only postural abnormalities but also the source from where they originate. This enables the clinician to gain as much information about the pathology as possible and to accordingly recommend suitable forms of treatment.
An active rehabilitation programme for skateboarding injuries augments the use of MASS4D® custom foot orthotics in treating and managing pathologies of the lower extremity.
By reducing stress on the affected muscle groups whilst providing adequate support to the musculoskeletal system, the patient has a better chance of recovery and is able to make a gradual return to activity.
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