Don't Let Scooter Injuries Spoil Warm Weather Fun
May 7, 2001 -- Even adults have to admit they are cool. With their sleek metallic folding frames and brightly colored wheels, scooters are definitely the biggest craze to hit the kid scene since Pokemon. And now that the nice weather is finally upon us in much of the nation, scooter fans of all ages are spending their free time tooling around sidewalks, streets and parks.
Unfortunately, there is danger in the midst of all this fun. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), scooter-related injuries have been rising steadily since early last year when the high-tech two-wheel scooters began causing a sensation in the U.S. About half of the more than 40,000 scooter injuries that occurred last year took place between May and September, most among kids under the age of 15.
Experts say the main reason so many kids are getting hurt is failure to wear helmets and protective padding on the knees and elbows.
"There are so many children riding on these without any type of protective gear," says Deborah A. Levine, MD, an emergency medicine specialist. "The need for helmets and pads has to be continually emphasized to parents and physicians."
Levine, of the New York University School of Medicine, says although most scooter injuries aren't life-threatening, they are often serious enough to require X-rays, tests, surgery and some kids may end up with permanent disabilities.
In the May issue of Pediatrics, she describes 15 cases of emergency room visits related to scooters. The average age was just under 8, and 87% of the injuries were the result of falls. About one-third of the injuries involved the head, half involved cuts or other trauma to the face, and six of the 15 involved fractures of the arm or leg. Levine says the number of total scooter injuries among kids surpassed the number of injuries from either rollerblades, skateboards, or even bicycles.
Only two of the injured children in Levine's report were wearing helmets and none were wearing protective padding on elbows and knees.
"The children who suffered head trauma did well, but theoretically they might not have. The one child who was hit by a car suffered significant orthopedic injuries and he was fortunate because it could have been worse," according to Levine. So far this year, two children have been killed while riding scooters, according to the CPSC. A 12-year old boy in Florida was struck by a car and a 10-year old boy in Ohio died after falling off a scooter.
Some parents know all too well why helmets are important. Maureen Buckley Jones, an Illinois mom whose 8- and 11-year-old love scootering, says a helmet probably saved her husband's life after he was hit by a car while bike riding and skidded across the pavement on his head.