Student recognized for study on skateboarding injuries

Skateboarding is a popular pastime for many Americans, with around 6.4 million people who actively participate in the sport. 

However, even with its great popularity, there is also a widely ignored side to the sport: the severe injuries. 

Benjamin Partiali, a fourth year medical student at OUWB and former skateboarder, realized there was a lack of information on hospitalizations due to skateboarding accidents.

Drawing inspiration from his days of skating, Partiali designed the study, “Injuries to the Head and Face From Skateboarding: A 10-Year Analysis From National Electronic Injury Surveillance System Hospitals.”

“There’s not a lot of published literature looking at skateboarding injuries specifically and there’s nothing — at least from what we saw — that was about head and face injuries,” he said. “With skateboarding being added to the Olympic sports, I thought it would be an interesting study to look at because no one else has done anything like this.” 

According to the OUWB website, the study was published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and presented at the Oakland University Graduate Student Research Conference prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Partiali and his team looked through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to collect their data. According to the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery’s website, they focused their attention on “skateboard-related head and face fractures, contusions, abrasions, and lacerations from 2009 through 2018.”

The team identified 2,519 reported injuries, which extrapolates to 100,201 injuries nationally, with fractures accounting for 14.1% of those injuries. The patients were predominantly male, with an average age of 16.

“Our most common injury that we found was a skull fracture,” Partiali said. “Unfortunately we know repeated head trauma and head trauma in general has pretty grave consequences, especially if you’re not wearing a helmet and if you’re young.” 

According to a article referencing the University of Oxford, brain trauma during childhood increases the risk for mental illness, poor school attainment and premature death. 

Growing up, Partiali wasn’t a fan of wearing protective gear like helmets. Now, especially after conducting this study, he hopes to spread awareness of how severe the consequences could be for young skaters. 

The conclusion drawn at the end of his study — given the potentially detrimental consequences of severe head trauma — was more aggressive injury prevention programs and helmet use in order to reduce the amount of hospitalizations caused by these injuries. 

Partiali said his team specifically looked at legislation in place in his home state of California. According to California state law, a person under the age of 18 cannot be without a helmet if they are riding bikes, skateboards or scooters while on public streets, bike paths or trails, with fines as steep as $200.

Partiali also hopes this study will find its way to pediatricians in order to open up early conversations with young skaters about the importance of protective gear while they’re skating. 

“I think skateboarding is a great sport; it’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to spend your time,” he said. “I think everyone also has to be aware that there are risks with skateboarding and you can mitigate those risks by using proper safety equipment.”