E-scooter injuries up over 70% among youth, helmet use must, says Indian-origin scientist
US emergency departments reported 13,557 e-scooter-related injuries in children over a two-year period, marking a 71% increase from 2020 to 2021.
As electric scooters become an increasingly popular mode of transportation, new research led by an Indian-origin scientist finds a 71 per cent increase in injuries reported in children and teens aged 18 and younger, with limited use of helmets resulting in the head as the most injured body part.
Over the two-year study period, US emergency departments reported 13,557 injuries related to e-scooters within the pediatric population.
The number of injuries increased 71 per cent, from 5,012 in 2020 compared with 8,545 in 2021.
The most common primary diagnosis was fracture, and the most injured body part was the head.
"As more and more children and adolescents turn to using electric scooters, it is critical that physicians, policymakers, and researchers work together to develop safe riding practices and proper infrastructure such as the enforcement of helmet use during rides and the institution of more bike and scooter lanes,” said Radhika Gupta, medical student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Among cases in which helmet use was reported, only 32 per cent reported wearing a helmet at the time of injury.
Among patients with head injuries, nearly 67 per cent were not wearing a helmet at the time of injury.
Additionally, nearly 15 per cent of all cases mentioned motor vehicle involvement, and almost 10 per cent of cases mentioned hitting obstacles such as uneven ground or potholes. "As more and more children and adolescents turn to using electric scooters, it is critical that physicians, policymakers, and researchers work together to develop safe riding practices and proper infrastructure such as the enforcement of helmet use during rides and the institution of more bike and scooter lanes," said Gupta.
The research, presented at ‘2023 AAP National Conference and Exhibition’, found that most injuries were among teenage boys.
"This research highlights the need for promoting helmet use among e-scooter riders and educating motor vehicle drivers on how to maintain safe distances," said Todd Lawrence, senior author on the paper and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Shared micromobility options are rapidly expanding as a cost-effective, eco-friendly mode of transportation. As many of these scooters are sized and powered for adults, the injury risk associated with use of e-scooters in the pediatric population has not been investigated in recent years since its rapid uptake, said the study.