Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Managing head injury risks in competitive skateboarding: what do we know?
  1. Andrew Stuart McIntosh1,2,
  2. Declan Alexander Patton3,4,
  3. Alexander GD McIntosh2
  1. 1 School of Engineering and ACRISP, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia
  2. 2 McIntosh Consultancy and Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  3. 3 Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  4. 4 Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Stuart McIntosh, School of Engineering, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia; as.mcintosh{at}


Objectives The broad objective of this paper is to inform policy, practice and research regarding the management of head injury risks in competitive skateboarding. The main motivation for the current study was the question of mandating helmet use in competitive skateboarding. The specific aims are to present current knowledge on (A) head injury risks in skateboarding, (B) preliminary biomechanical data on falls and head injury risks in a selection of competitive skateboarding events similar to those planned for the Summer Olympics, (C) standards for skateboard-styled helmets and (D) impact performance of helmets commonly used in skateboarding.

Methods A narrative review of the published literature on head injuries in skateboarding was conducted. Videos of skateboarding competitions from Vans Park Professional League, Street League Skateboarding and Dew Tour were reviewed to describe crashes and falls. Standards databases including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), British Standards Institution (BSI), Snell, United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) were searched for skateboarding-styled helmet standards. A sample of helmets considered suitable for skateboarding was tested in standard impact tests.

Results The majority of previous literature focused on the paediatric population in a recreational setting with little data from competitive skateboarding. Head injuries comprised up to 75% of all injuries and helmet use was less than 35%. Video analysis identified high rates of falls and crashes during competitive skateboarding, but also a capacity for the athletes to control falls and limit head impacts. Less than 5% of competitive skateboarders wore helmets. In addition to dedicated national skateboard helmet standards, there are several national standards for skateboard-styled helmets. All helmets, with the exception of one uncertified helmet, had similar impact attenuation performance; that is, at 0.8 m drop height, 114–148 g; at 1.5 m, 173–220 g; and at 2.0 m, 219–259 g. Impact performance in the second impact was degraded in all helmets tested.

Conclusion Helmets styled for skateboarding are available ‘off the shelf’ that will offer protection to the head against skull fractures and intracranial injuries in competitive skateboarding. There is an urgent need to commence a programme of research and development to understanding and control head injury risks.

  • skate board
  • helmet
  • olympics
  • concussion
  • injury prevention

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

View Full Text


  • Contributors ASM conceptualised the study, analysed video review data, performed and analysed the laboratory testing of helmets and cowrote the manuscript. DAP performed the literature review, performed the review of helmet standards and cowrote the manuscript. AGDM performed internet searches of skateboard competitions and video reviews and assisted with writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding The projects summarised in this paper were funded in part by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Medical and Science Commission and the Centre for Road Safety, Transport for NSW.

  • Competing interests ASM is a member of the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP) at Edith Cowan University. DAP is a member of the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre (SIPRC) at the University of Calgary. ACRISP and SIPRC are two of the International Research Centres for the Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.