Health Break | Published June 27, 2007 | Written by Nancy Mutch, RN, MSN, emergency department and critical care services

Skating on the Heels of Injury

It's summertime. Time for kids to get outside and get on wheels bikes, rollerblades, scooters—all with protective gear, like helmets, knee pads and elbow pads. For a lot of kids this year, trendy wheeled sneakers are the way to move—rolling across playgrounds and through malls.

Unfortunately, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that shoes with wheels in the heels contribute to 1,600 emergency department visits per year. Injuries range from cracked skulls to broken wrists, arm, ankles and dislocated elbows. These shoes are usually not permitted in schools or malls. All it takes is one piece of gravel to be stuck in the wheel and an injury could result.

Sold in department stores all over the country, the wheeled shoes give parents a false sense of security when buying, because they look just like sneakers but have a socket in the heel with a wheel. Kids can walk or run in them or when the user shifts their weight to the heels, they can ride on the heels.

The shoes are obviously fun for children, and they get kids moving. Parents considering buying these shoes should use the same precautions as any wheeled toy.

  • Carefully supervise children when they are first learning to use the wheeled sneakers because it is not as easy as it seems.

  • Require children to wear a helmet, wrist guards and kneepads—the same gear they would use for inline skating and skateboarding. The shoe manufacturer provides recommendations with shoes.

  • Children should avoid wheeling on roads, sidewalks and wet surfaces.

The wheeled sneakers are the safest activity among wheeled sports, but with any wheeled activity; there is a risk for injury. We want our kids to have fun, but it's no fun to be at the Emergency Department on a warm summer day with a broken bone.

The Emergency Department at Mount Nittany Medical Center reminds parents and families of the health and safety children's workshops offered at the Medical Center in July. As part of the Keystone Active Zone initiative, families are encouraged to come to the Galen and Nancy Driebelbis Auditorium on July 9, 16, 23, and 30 at 6 p.m. for fun, educational children's health workshops. Bring your wheels and gear on July 16 for a special bike derby. For more information on the events, contact the Mount Nittany Medical Center Communications Department at 814.234.6727. For more information on community health events, including screenings, classes and programs at the Medical Center, log onto

Nancy Mutch RN, BSN, is the Administrative Director of Emergency Services at Mount Nittany Medical Center.