Heelys have 1-2 wheels in the heel so kids use their shoes as skates.
Protective gear is recommended, but not practical.
Fall on an outstretched hand is most common injury.
If you see a kid rolling by with one heel up and he or she is just wearing tennis shoes, they are probably wearing Heelys. While these are becoming common, more and more injuries are occurring. Head injuries and admissions to hospital were frequent with common age of 9 years old. (1) We all know the recent focus on preventing concussions that should be considered when deciding if Heelys are safe for your son or daughter. Studies are showing that early and recurrent concussions can have lasting effects. Another study has shown falling on an outstretched hand along with arm and elbow injuries were most common and 20% of injuries happened when using the Heelys for first time. (2) None of the 67 children injured were wearing protective gear and there were 56 girls injured compared to 11 boys.
Another study of 953 patients showed over half were being supervised, but only 31% were wearing safety equipment. (3) Most parents were not aware that safety equipment was even recommended. Kids wear these shoes around the gym or even going shopping so it is not reasonable to think they will put on protective equipment for these outings. The studies have recommended close supervision of children using Heelys or Street Gliders during the steep learning curve and usage of protective gear at all times.
Parents have bought more than 4 million of the $60-$100 items for children as young as 5. The company Heelys promotes safe behavior with “Team Heelys,” a group of young experts who hold “heeling” seminars for kids at stores and parks nationwide. (4) Heelys do come in 2 wheels which are to provide more stability and balance for beginning skaters.
As a physical therapist, the constant stretching on the Achilles tendon would possibly cause tendinitis, although we have not treated any patients nor read any studies to date. We recommend helmets for all kids wearing Heelys, but we know that most older kids will not wear helmets. Are Heelys safe for your son or daughter? The following are safety rules listed on the Heelys.com website:
Always stagger your feet with your strong foot in front – putting them side-by-side will result in your feet sliding out from under you.
When walking with the wheels in, do not lean back on your heels and make sure to walk with your toes touching the ground first.
Be extra cautious when skating on uneven surface – debris and crevices can cause sudden stops and uncontrolled movements. ( HealthyStock does not recommend using Heelys on uneven surfaces)
Never skate faster than you can walk. When you feel like you are losing balance, stop skating by putting your toes down and lean forward. “
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