Roller shoes

With the weather starting to change, more and more children will be out and about, which means kids will be rolling onto roads and paved areas on bikes, skateboards, scooters, inline skates, and the latest trend: roller shoes, or heelies. So this week, let me glide through some information on these part-sneaker/part-skate shoes. Almost 2,000 children were injured last year using roller shoes, and since their creation, more than 10 million pairs have been sold. The vast majority of accidents involved children wearing these shoes for the first time or who are just learning how to use them. Most accidents occurred on public roads and sidewalks. The most common injuries involved broken bones usually of the wrists, hands and arms, but leg, ankle and foot fractures occurred as well. Often, the accident occurred as children shifted from walking to rolling mode, which requires weight shifting and rebalancing onto the back of their heels. The best way to prevent your child from being in an accident with these shoes is to treat them more as sports equipment and less as everyday footwear. What does this mean? It means making sure your child wears protective gear, including kneepads, elbow pads, wrist guards, and of course, a helmet when they use these shoes outdoors in the rolling mode. Kids should practice with the shoes on a safe, smooth indoor surface and learn how to stop before taking them out into public. They should not be used on rocky areas, over curbs, or for going down hills. And they should never be used around places with lots of people or traffic. Hopefully, tips like this will gear you up when it comes to your children wearing protective gear when they go outside and use their roller shoes. Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WCAX-TV Channel 3. Visit the First with Kids archives at www.vermontchildrens.org.

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