1,600 roller-shoe injuries reported
Injuries from trendy roller shoes are far more numerous than previously thought, contributing to about 1,600 emergency room visits last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.
The injuries were mostly in children, the target market for the wheeled shoes that send kids cruising down sidewalks, across playgrounds and through shopping mall crowds.
Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said last week that the agency knew of at least 64 roller shoe-related injuries and one death between September 2005 through December 2006.
The new higher estimate is based on a more recent and thorough examination by staff statisticians of data reported to the agency, Wolfson told the AP Wednesday.
The update follows new safety advice posted online Tuesday by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which recommends helmets, wrist protectors and knee and elbow pads for kids who wear wheeled shoes.
The academy's advice stems from recent reports from around the globe about doctors treating cracked skulls; broken wrists, arms and ankles; and dislocated elbows in kids injured wearing the shoes.
On Monday, a report in June's Pediatrics said 67 children were treated for roller-shoe injuries at a hospital in Dublin, Ireland, over 10 weeks last summer.
Heelys, the most popular brand, are sold in 70 countries. They're made by Carrollton, Texas-based Heelys Inc. The shoes feature removable wheels in each heel that pop out when wearers shift their weight to their heels.
The company responded to the higher injury estimate by releasing a statement about their shoes' safety from Edward Heiden, president of Heiden Associates, a product safety consulting firm that Heelys hired to study the shoes.
"The injury rate of using wheeled footwear has not increased in the past 15 months. More wheeled shoes are being sold and so, as you would expect, more incidents are being reported," Heiden said.
Heelys reported in April that a Heiden Associates analysis of data from the government's product safety commission showed the shoes have a lower injury rate than many other sports, including skateboarding, inline skating and even swimming.
Heiden said the new numbers confirm that previous analysis, "which tells us using wheeled footwear is 42 times safer than basketball, 29 times safer than bicycling, and 18 times safer than skateboarding."
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