BEND, Ore. - Head injuries are a hot topic in sports, but what about skateboarders and scooter-riders? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics skateboarding injuries cause about 50,000 annual trips to the emergency room.
Of those 50,000, 15,000 children and adolescents are hospitalized.
Non-powered scooter-related injuries, meanwhile, accounted from an estimated 9,400 ER visits in just an 8-month period in 2000, and 90 percent were under the age of 15.
A local tragedy has put a spotlight on the skateboarding safety issue.
Lauren Berray, 27, a Portland woman and Sisters High School alumnus vacationing with her family at Black Butte Ranch, apparently fell while skateboarding at Black Butte Ranch last weekend. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and died Thursday night at St. Charles Bend, a family friend told the Sisters Nugget.
Friday evening, we visited Ponderosa Park in Bend to find out if skaters and scooter riders are protecting themselves with helmets.
"Just didn't really think about it," Christopher Dake said. "Normally I just go without one."
"I just felt like I didn't want to be wrecked," Caelum Cooney said.
"I've had multiple concussions and they were all in the same year," Skylar Furlow said.
Even after suffering four or five concussions in one year, 16-year-old Furlow chooses not to wear a helmet.
"They're kind of uncomfortable, and they make you sweat, so you can't ride as long because you're too hot," Furlow said.
He's not the only one who has opted to go without a helmet. Dake has been skating for many years and says the only time he wears one is when he's doing a trick he isn't familiar with.
"Sometimes I have that little voice in my head that's like, 'Hey, you might want to do something a little bit easier,'" Dake said.
There are those who think otherwise. One 12-year-old scooter user said he would rather protect himself so he doesn't have to sit out any activities.
"I have a lot of things going on," Cooney said. "I don't want to be out all summer because I got hurt scootering."
Having suffered numerous concussions, Furlow is well aware of the chance he's taking, but what can you do when you're a natural thrill seeker?
"I should be wearing one, because you can only hit your head so many times," Furlow said. "It's just, life is a risk."
But it's a risk Cooney is unwilling to take.
"You only have one brain. You can't really get a new one," Cooney said.
The AAP said you're also at higher risk when you skate on uneven surfaces, or when you attempt tricks beyond your skill level.
ER doctors say many injury crashes can be prevented and urge youth to not ride in traffic, wear protective gear and have close adult supervision if under the age of 10 (for skateboards) and 9 (for scooters).