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Injuries to Children from Roller Shoes, Heelers, Street Gliders

New and innovative forms of activity for children are constantly being invented and produced for the mass market. Many children have hours of trouble-free fun with these entertaining devices.

However, as with any sport or activity, injury is a distinct possibility. Roller shoes, heeleys or street gliders are causing a number of children to need attention for orthopaedic injuries.

A physiotherapist can advise you on protective gear and manage any injuries that the child may have.

When you buy them they appear very like any other form of normal shoe. This can give a false sense of security as they are more closely related to roller blades than to a normal shoe.

To get the shoes to roll, a child needs to lean back slightly to engage the wheel under the heel. This can cause loss of balance if forward motion occurs too quickly, and most injuries are indeed due to falling backwards onto the hands and arms.

A recent study in Dublin, Ireland, has indicated the kind of problems these devices can be expected to produce.

67 children were seen with injuries due to wheeled shoes, which made up 8% of the total number of children seen for all conditions over the same period.

Most of the injured were girls (83.5%), the average age was 9.6 years and most had fallen backwards whilst trying to balance and set off.

87% if injuries were to the hands and arms, with 49 examples of wrist fracture to the radius. The rest included fractures of the hand, dislocations of the elbow and fractures the upper arm bone just above the elbow. Just over a third of the number need to be kept in hospital for treatment.

70% of the children rated themselves as beginners and none of them were wearing any safety equipment.

A few tips for learning to use these devices:

  • Learn how to tip the shoes back and balance before starting out by holding on to a secure object until more skilled.
  • Learn how to stop successfully and other basics indoors before going out.
  • Wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads and wrist protectors.

Vioreanu et al. Pediatrics 2007;119(6):e1294-e1298

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