Posted by: Ticktock | March 20, 2009

Wheels on Heels Pose Danger?

A girl in my cast was telling me yesterday that she broke both her arms in a tragic Heely (Street Glider) accident last year.  For the uninitiated, Heelys are the popular fad of sneakers with a wheel on the base near the heel. Today’s kids are constantly zooming around the mall in awkward zig zags.  These shoes are so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine them being dangerous, but my young actor told me that her doctor insisted that Heelys should be discontinued based on the number of injuries he sees in his clinic.

Looks like a topic that requires an investigation.  Are Heelys truly a danger, or are these accidents actually uncommon? Let’s look at the medical literature…

One UK study reported that in a four month period, one hospital treated 32 children injured in Heely accidents.  They recommended further research.

A 90 day orthopaedic study showed that one hospital had 16 children who had fractures due to Heely accidents.  Most of the parents in the study were not aware that safety gear is recommended for use with Heelys.  The parents also said that they would never buy a pair of Heelys for their kids again.  This particular study was a bit more revealing because it compared rates of Heely injury to other sports and activities.  There were less Heely injuries than any of the major sports and activities such as trampoline or skateboarding.  However, it should also be considered that a direct comparison is unfair; it doesn’t factor how many people participate in each activity.

An Irish study reported that 67 injuries from Heelys were recorded over a 10 week period.  The results of the study indicated that most of the injuries occurred with girls, and most happened when the shoes were used for the first time or during the learning process.

Another Irish study recommended that Heelys be given a government health warning, calling them an “epidemic”.  In this three month review, there were 39 patients with Heely accidents, one of whom had a craniotomy due to a head injury.

So, what have we learned here?  Yes, Heelys are dangerous.  No, they aren’t necessarily as dangerous as other activities.  Yes, your child should wear pads while wearing Heelys.  Yes, you should be especially careful during the learning phase of Heely use.



  1. They freak me out. Suddenly a child starts zipping about. I usually immediately move well away from walking anywhere near them!

  2. My son broke his arm on Heely’s, when he was barely 8 years old. Three months later he broke his arm climbing a fence…maybe we should outlaw fences 😉

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