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More than 400,000 kids get hurt every year riding bikes, scooters, skateboards and skates or rollerblades, researchers reported Wednesday.
That breaks down to 50 kids every hour going to an emergency room or emergency department— many of them with broken bones or head injuries, Safe Kids Worldwide reported.
And while kids will be kids and will get the occasional scrape or worse, there is one good way to prevent the most serious injuries, said Dr. Marcee White of Safe Kids Worldwide: Make sure children wear helmets.
"It's not a matter of if kids are going to fall, it's when they're going to fall,” White told NBC News. "We want to make sure that when they do fall, they have protective gear on."
The group analyzed national safety data for children aged up to 19 for 2015, and conducted an online survey of 1,600 parents.
“In 2015, 426,000 children were seen in our EDs for injuries related to these wheeled sports,” White said.
Fractures are the most frequent diagnosis, but also serious head injuries.
“Eleven percent of ED visits were for serious head injuries for wheeled sports injuries," White said.
Between 2005 and 2015, the statistics show a 28 percent decrease in bicycle-related injuries. But injuries from scooters went up by 40 percent over the same time.
Higher center of gravity
While 68 percent of parents said their kids always wear a helmet while biking, only 57 percent say they wear helmets while using scooters. But kids can fall off scooters, too.
"Concrete is concrete no matter where it is,” said White. “When they do fall, they fall pretty hard.”
Kids may look like they know what they’re doing, especially on a scooter, but any wheeled vehicle can be dangerous.
“Children 14 years and under, and particularly those under age 10, are at greater risk for a fall when on wheels because they have a higher center of gravity, are less developed physically and have poor balance compared to adults,” according to the report.
“They also have slower reactions and are less coordinated than adults, leading to being less able to break their falls. Finally, children typically overestimate their skills and abilities and are less experienced in judging speed, traffic and other risks.”
So the best way to make sure they don’t get the worst injuries to to make sure they wear a helmet, White said.
“Twenty-five percent of parents say that kids won't wear a helmet just because they didn't want to. But we know that parents are great role models for their children, and so if parents wear helmets when they participate, we know that the kids will be more likely to, too,” White said.
“Among parents who say they always wear a helmet while riding a bike, 86 percent say their children do the same, but among parents who say they never wear a helmet, only 38 percent report that their children always wear one themselves,” the report says.