BOSTON — People who skateboard using a type of board called a longboard may be at greater risk for severe injuries than those who use regular skateboards, a new study suggests.
The study included information from 824 people (whose average age was 19) who were treated for injuries from either longboarding or skateboarding at a trauma center in Utah between 2006 and 2011, researchers reported here today at a public health research meeting.
More than half, or 57.5 percent, were injured from longboarding — which uses a longer, wider board than a skateboard — while 42.5 percent were injured from skateboarding.
Longboarders were at much greater risk of head fracture, traumatic brain injury and bleeding inside the skull (intracranial hemorrhage) than skateboarders.
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Among longboarders, 8 percent had a head fracture, 31 percent had a traumatic brain injury and 14 percent had an intracranial hemorrhage. Among skateboarders, 0.5 percent had a head fracture, 12 percent had a traumatic brain injury, and none had an intracranial hemorrhage.
Skateboarders sometimes train in skate parks, while longboarders are more likely to ride on open roads, which introduces obstacles such as moving cars and light posts that can increase injury risk, said study researcher Steven M. Thygerson, an assistant professor of health science at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Some types of longboarding specifically involve riding downhill or weaving around obstacles.
Longboarders may also achieve greater speeds, and be less likely to wear a helmet (out of a desire for "freedom/wind in the hair") than skateboarders, Thygerson said.
Doctors who treat longboarders for injuries should be more suspicious than usual that the patient has a head injury, and should consider conducting a brain scan, Thygerson said.
Public health campaigns that promote helmet use may significantly reduce head fractures and traumatic brain injury if they appeal to longboarders, Thygerson said.
Another study presenting at the meeting found that about 68,100 children ages 5 to 19 visit the emergency department for skateboarding-related injuries each year.
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