His friends and family members described skateboarding as his “life”, but the very activity that he loved killed the 36-year-old Lansing man last Saturday. While attempting a jump at the Ranney Skate Park in Lansing on June 18, the man collided with another skateboarder and suffered severe head injuries, which resulted in his death a few days later. Tragically, he wasn’t wearing a helmet, a simple device that probably would’ve saved his life.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, emergency rooms and other medical facilities treated as many as 242,000 skateboarding injuries in 2003. The most common types of injuries doctors report seeing are wrist and elbow fractures, followed by head injuries. They also report that 60% of skateboard accidents involve children under the age of fifteen. However, other skateboarders are also at greater risk for injury:
- · Inexperienced skateboarders, those who have been skating for less than one week, suffer 1/3 of injuries.
- · Skateboarders who do not wear protective gear—including a helmet, wrist guards, elbow and knee pads and appropriate shoes.
- · Skateboarders who go near traffic or skate on “homemade” ramps.
- · Experienced skateboarders who attempt to skate on irregular riding surfaces or try risky stunts.
Unfortunately, many of the skaters at Ranney Park say they don’t wear helmets either because there is a stigma surrounding their use. Some even went so far as to call not wearing a helmet a “badge of honor”, while others stated helmets were “too heavy” or an “inconvenience”. However, the 36-year-old Lansing man’s experiences can attest to the importance of wearing protective gear: prior to his fatal head injury he had suffered a broken knee, leg, collarbone, a separated shoulder, and had even been hit by a car. While the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons calls skateboarding “a fun and healthy sport”, it is also called an “extreme” sport for a reason. If you can’t resist the thrill, keep the following safety tips in mind for yourself or for your children:
· Use a quality skateboard
· Keep your skateboard in proper working order
· Learn the basic skills of skateboarding, especially how to stop properly
· Wear proper protective equipment
· Skateboard only on smooth pavement away from traffic, preferably in a supervised skate park
· Be careful with tricks and jumps
· Stay in good shape
· Do not use headphones while skateboarding
· Never attempt to put more than one person at a time on a skateboard
· Be considerate of fellow skateboarders, especially younger or less skilled skateboarders
· Know what to do in an emergency—don’t panic and call 911 for medical assistance or an ambulance immediately
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.