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As Scooter Popularity Soars, So Do Injuries

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Medical experts say that it doesn't take a design flaw to cause injuries on the souped-up version of its 1950s rather benign wide, usually red, metal predecessor.

"I'm nervous that with the Christmas season coming and it being one of the hottest selling items, it's going to become a major problem," says Robert Wiebe, medical director of Children Medical Center of Dallas' emergency department. "They're fast, and little kids are riding them. It will become as much of a problem as bikes."

He tells WebMD that currently his medical staff sees about one scooter injury every couple of weeks, usually the worst being arm and wrist fractures. Wiebe suspects there may be more injuries in the city's outlying areas. He also believes the seriousness of the accidents also will increase as the popularity of the item does.

"Serious injuries are the ones I'm worried about, when kids are running into cars or hooking the scooters on the back of a bus, or bike, or car," Wiebe says.

Maggie Huey, RN, director of emergency services at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, echoes Wiebe's sentiments. "We're seeing a number of scooter injuries, but it hasn't reached the proportion of bicycle accidents yet," she tells WebMD. "We've had 39 so far this year, but as the prevalence of the scooters goes up, so will the injuries."

Most of the youngsters who come to Cook for treatment after a scooter accident have been injured because they aren't wearing protective gear and/or they are not old enough to be "proficient at operating" the scooters, Huey says.

"The scooters and wheels are smaller than the older versions that were popular when I was a kid," Huey recalls. "They are lighter and faster; that's how they're advertised, and that's what the kids want. But they are so fast the kid doesn't have time to jump off before a crash occurs."

A big problem is that kids can't control the scooters and they even run over smaller children because they can't stop. In addition, youngsters ride the little sliver of metal over rough pavement. "They have to stay away from pavement that has grooves and cracks and bumps; scooters don't handle that well," Huey says. She recalls one child who was injured when the cement pavement merged into a bricked area - when the scooter hit it, "the kid went head over heels."

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