High risk heels

SANDUSKY One of the most popular children's toys this holiday season may also be a cause for concern
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



One of the most popular children's toys this holiday season may also be a cause for concern for parents.

Shoes with wheels in the sole, the most popular brand being Heelys, are a favorite among children and teens, but can lead to sprained wrists, broken arms and other injuries.

Gina Rambo, injury prevention coordinator at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, said parents should make sure their children ready for this type of wheeled shoe.

"I think Heelys -- because they look like a shoe -- are more thought of as a fancy shoe than a skate," Rambo said. "Parents should be aware that their children should be developmentally ready with coordination, balance and good judgment."

Rambo said injuries happen at every level of learning with the wheeled shoes. Beginner and moderate learners are often injured while attempting to stop.

"The mode of injury occurs when the child is trying to stop or switching their body weight to find balance on their wheels," she said. "They don't know their sense of balance."

Advanced skaters aren't less likely to escape injury because they are usually more likely to take risks, Rambo said.

When falling, skaters will either fall forward or backward. Injuries from falling forward are usually finger, wrist, arm or elbow injuries, while injuries from falling backwards can be more serious, including spine or head injuries.

James Swartz, director of World Against Toys Causing Harm, said the main problem with wheeled shoes, is that they are often thought of more as shoes than skates, which means children are less likely to wear protective gear, as they would with inline or roller skates.

"They are often used without safety equipment. The concerns have to do with the fact that they are sold with shoes for children. The way they are marketed is for children to use in their everyday lives," said Swartz referring to Heelys, which made the organization's top 10 most dangerous toys list for 2006. "All the same hazards are there as with in-line skates, but safety equipment isn't part of the equation."

The danger doesn't seem to bother area children too much, though.

Twins Kevin and Megan Duttera, 9, both got Heelys for Christmas last year. While they've taken their spills, both say they enjoy the shoes.

"I like them because I don't have to walk and I can get places faster," Kevin said with his sister agreeing.

Both said they use their Heelys at the mall, in their house and at the park.

Their mother, Holly Duttera, said her 13-year-old daughter broke her arm the first day she tried the shoes, but she doesn't think that should reflect badly on Heelys.

"The thing is that you can be walking down the street and fall and break your arm," she said.