Head trauma tops the list of severe injuries involving the use of electric scooters — injuries that in many cases could have been prevented with the use of a helmet, according to an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Austin public health department.
Almost half of the riders identified in the study had a severe injury, such as a broken leg, and half reported that a surface condition such as a pothole or crack in the street may have contributed to their injury, according to the report, released Thursday. Fewer than 1 percent of those injured were wearing a helmet.
The investigation, the first from the CDC into scooter use, gathered information from people treated at Austin hospitals last fall for injuries associated with the use of rental scooters. It comes amid spreading reports of related injuries and deaths in cities including the District, Los Angeles and Dallas; it also follows recent news of scooter failures and breakdowns.
The devices, which are in more than 100 cities worldwide, have led to a new category of injuries in emergency rooms. Cases of broken noses, wrists and shoulders, along with facial lacerations and fractures have been reported since last summer. The study probed the reported spike in injuries related to the use of the devices that have become ubiquitous on many streets and sidewalks.
In the D.C. region, the devices can be found practically everywhere in downtown Washington and are available in Arlington and Alexandria. The District this week announced the expansion of its program, which allows nearly 5,000 dockless devices, including bikes and scooters, to be in operation.
The Austin analysis found that nearly half of those hurt while using a scooter suffered an injury to the head and about 15 percent suffered a traumatic brain injury. Among those were concussions and internal bleeding.
“These injuries may have been preventable,” the study said. “Studies have shown that bicycle riders reduce the risk of head and brain injuries by wearing a helmet. Helmet use might also reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of an e-scooter crash.”
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