E-scooter injuries needing ER visits on rise — especially to head and neck, study finds

A review of emergency room visits across the U.S. found that electric scooter injuries have been increasing ever since the public rideshare vehicles became available to the public in 2017.

In the last three years, accidents are becoming even more frequent as additional scooters are planted in more cities, and as people search for less expensive and more convenient modes of transportation in crowded urban areas. The vehicles can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

The Henry Ford Health System found that about 2,823 cases of electric scooter-related injuries were reported between 2009 and 2019, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But when researchers estimated to account for accidents that weren’t reported in hospital systems, that number grew to nearly 104,000.

And injuries to the head and neck made up nearly 28% of them, the study, published last month in the journal The Laryngoscope, found.

Children under 17 years old were the most common age group to get injured during electric scooter accidents, but that title jumped to people aged between 18 and 44 in 2018 to 2019.

Head and neck injuries involved internal organs including the brain (33%), lacerations (25%), bruises and scrapes (16%), concussions (11%) and bone fractures (8%).

The researchers said electric scooter accidents often involve cars, curbs, poles, street signs and manhole covers, as well as mechanical problems such as failing brakes and wheels.

“We hope our findings will help educate users of rideshare e-scooters about the potential for serious head and neck injuries and the safety precautions they should take,” study senior author Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk, chair of the department of otolaryngology at the Henry Ford Health System, said in a statement.

While riding an electric scooter, the researchers suggest you:

  • Wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads

  • Follow traffic laws

  • Watch for pedestrians, cars and other obstacles

  • Wear clothing that doesn’t compress your body, interfering with your ability to ride appropriately

  • Learn about how the specific scooter you’re riding functions

“As a physician, I would recommend that people who use this mode of transportation wear a helmet and apply the same approach as when driving a car,” study co-author Dr. Samantha Tam, a Henry Ford otolaryngologist, said in the statement.

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