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E-Scooter Use Linked To High-Energy Trauma Injuries: Study

New research suggests e-scooter injuries associated with the use of services like Bird and Lime often result in a high-energy trauma, requiring surgery and extended hospital stays.

In a study published last week in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, researchers from University of California’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery reviewed case reports over the last two years, where riders of electric scooters required surgery, finding 73 individuals required operative treatment for fractures and breaks to their upper and lower extremities from high-energy falls.

Similar to bike-sharing services, scooter rentals like Bird, Lime and Spin are increasingly popular among city residents, allowing individuals to easily use an electric scooters for quick transportation through the use of an app. However, since scooter rental services became popular in major cities throughout the U.S. over the past two years, hundreds of scooter injury reports have surfaced, including a number of deaths nationwide.

The study reviewed all of the operative orthopedic cases and consults at two trauma centers from September 2017 through August 2019, and identified 73 patients who underwent a total of 75 surgeries related to an electric scooter crash. Of the patients, 73 were e-scooter riders, and two were pedestrians struck by someone riding on an electric scooter.

The injuries studied were caused by high-energy trauma, due to the riders traveling at high speeds. Thirty-two patients were recorded suffering upper extremity injuries, 42 sustained lower extremity injuries, and one patient reported suffering injuries to both. The electric scooters reach up to speeds of 15 miles per hour, which has taken some riders by surprise.

Of the injuries, nine patients sustained open fractures and seven incidents involved hip fractures. The remaining fractures and breaks involved the hands, arms, upper and lower extremities.

There are growing concerns over the rental scooter injury risks in cities nationwide, as the devices are not as safe as bicycles due to their instability, shorter wheelbases and smaller wheels. Along with roadway imperfections, and other possible hazards, safety officials claim riders are not properly equipped with the right safety gear to protect them.

In a study published earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted a sharp increase in the amount of emergency room visits involving electric scooter injuries. Researchers discovered 45% of all emergency room scooter-related injuries involved head trauma due to the rider failing to wear a helmet.

Second to head trauma, researchers found 27% of injuries related to upper extremity fractures followed by 12% experiencing lower extremity fractures. Approximately 29% of the injured riders self-reported being a first time rider. According to the study, approximately 14.3 injuries requiring emergency room treatment occurred every 100,000 trips on e-scooters.

Several e-scooter fatalities have been reported in recent years, including a Washington, DC, resident who was dragged more than a dozen yards by an SUV that struck and pinned him and the Lime electric scooter he was riding in 2018. The death of a 24-year old Dallas resident occurred around the same time after he fell off of a scooter on his way home from work.

As a result of growing injury reports and concerns, several electric scooter lawsuits have been filed against rental scooter companies in recent years, claiming the scooters are being put on the streets nationwide without adequate risk warnings, instructions or safety measures.

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