Serious scooter injuries triple in four years

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 10, 2024 (HealthDay News) — When you’re looking for a cheap, convenient way to get around town, which one is safer, a scooter or a bicycle?

A nationwide survey of injuries related to both conditions suggests bicycling may be the safest way to get around.

Injuries caused by scooters in the United States nearly tripled between 2016 and 2020, with many serious enough to require plastic surgery and plastic surgery, UCLA researchers report. The cost of treating these injuries has increased fivefold, highlighting the financial strain they place on the health care system.

“Given the increasing number of hospitalizations and major surgeries due to skateboard-related injuries, improving safety standards for riders is critical,” lead author Nam Yong Cho, a junior, said in a UCLA Medicine press release. “Advocating for better infrastructure, including enforced speed limits and dedicated lanes, is also vital to minimizing risks to vehicles, scooter riders and pedestrians.”

In the study, published Jan. 9 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, researchers used a federal government database to compare injury trends and outcomes related to skateboards and scooters. The database does not differentiate between electric and non-electric skateboards.

In total, nearly 93,000 patients were hospitalized for skateboard injuries during the study period (approximately 6,100 of those patients were skateboard-related injuries).

About 27% of scooter users and 16% of cyclists are under 18 years old.

Injuries increased during the winter, with scooter injuries resulting in more major surgeries than bicycling injuries (56% vs. 48%). These include orthopedic surgery (89% vs. 48%); plastic surgery (85% vs. 85%); and lead operations (5% vs. 4%).

Scooter riders were more likely to suffer long bone fractures and paralysis than cyclists, but the risk of traumatic brain injury was similar in both groups, the study found.

These injuries are costly.

The annual cost of treating scooter-related injuries soared from about $6.6 million in 2016 to $35.5 million in 2020. The cost of bicycle injuries also increased, from $307 million to $434 million.

The researchers noted that the database had little information on helmet use, whether there were multiple riders or whether drugs were used. They fail to take into account the role of objects, other vehicles, terrain, speed, time of day and distance traveled.

Despite these limitations, researchers are concerned about increased patient injuries, hospitalizations, and financial burden.

“In scooter-related incidents, a significant proportion of patients require surgical intervention and may have long-term (health problems), suggesting progressive worsening of injury severity,” they wrote. “Our findings call for healthcare leaders Take action to promote prevention of skateboard-related injuries and improve community safety.”

More information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides more information about bicycle safety.

Source: UCLA Health Sciences Center, press release, January 9, 2023

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