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Wheeled shoes' safety questioned

Doctors say the popular sneakers are sending children to the hospital.

June 04, 2007|From the Associated Press

CHICAGO — Trendy wheeled sneakers that let children zip down sidewalks and across playgrounds also could send them rolling into emergency rooms on a stretcher, say doctors who blame a rash of injuries on the international craze.

It's called "heeling," named after Heelys, the most popular brand. They're sold in 70 countries and are so hot that their Carrollton, Texas-based maker, Heelys Inc., recently landed atop BusinessWeek's annual list of fastest-growing companies.

But doctors from around the globe have reported treating broken wrists, arms and ankles, dislocated elbows and even cracked skulls in children injured while wearing roller shoes.

During a 10-week period last summer, 67 children were treated for injuries suffered while wearing Heelys or strap-on wheels called Street Gliders at Temple Street Children's University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, according to a report in the June edition of Pediatrics.

From September 2005 to December 2006, one death and at least 64 roller-shoe injuries were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a spokesman said last week.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons this week is issuing new safety advice that recommends helmets, wrist protectors and knee and elbow pads for kids who wear wheeled shoes.

Heelys in April said a study it commissioned showed that wearing its shoes was safer than skateboarding, inline skating and even swimming. The shoes are sold with safety information, including a recommendation to wear protective gear.

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