Skateparks should be graded like ski slopes to prevent injury, a new study recommends.
Like infamous black runs on the ski slopes, researchers found that certain areas on skateparks should also be graded according to difficulty.
Writing in the journal Injury Prevention, the team from the University of Guelph in Canada said there were very few risk assessments done in these parks.
So they set out to study 526 young skateboarders as they took to Silvercreek Skatepark one of Canada’s largest.
The skateboarders were divided into a younger group of 11–15-year-olds (166) and an older group of 16-20-year-olds (360) and were unobtrusively video recorded while performing their tricks.
Most of the skaters (96 percent) were male.
The analysis revealed that flips, jumps, and turns on flat ground and quarterpipe, a curved concave ramp, as well as other ramp tricks were the most dangerous but also very popular.
Participants see falls as part of the activity but there has been little research on how the design of the park and the types of tricks increase the risk.
There are no universal safety standards for skatepark design and researchers suggest that features might be grouped to encourage younger and older skateboarders to different areas.
Fall severity was scored whenever a trick was attempted, ranging from 1, indicating successful completion, to 5 and 6, indicating that the skateboarder fell onto part of, or their entire, body.
Popular features were defined by at least 10 children in one of the age groups using them.
The highest fall frequency for younger skateboarders was during flips, with 94 percent of them falling when they tried these. Next was slides (67 percent fell) and jumps (42 percent).
The highest fall frequency for older skateboarders was also for flips (81pr cent fell) and slides (72 percent).
Both age groups were most likely to fall on flat ground where tricks are first tried out.
The team concluded that to curb the risk of falls, it may be worth grading skateboard parks like ski runs according to the popularity of the metal and concrete features they contain and the level of expertise required.
Dr. Barbara Morrongiello said: “Segregating ages by design might reduce imitation of risky tricks performed by older skateboarders that are viewed by younger skateboarders but are beyond their skillset.
“It may prove useful to moderate risk of falling if features are differentially coded across the skatepark to suggest difficulty levels, much like what is done on ski hills.”
Finding ways to encourage skateboarders to use protective gear might also be helpful, given that most of those who featured in the analysis weren’t wearing helmets, for example.
Dr. Morrongiello added: “It would be useful to talk directly with skateboarders who have experienced a medically attended injury and assess how these affect their decisions with regard to features they will use and/or tricks they plan to attempt on returning to the skatepark.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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