A Henry Ford Health System study published in The Laryngoscope shows that head and neck injuries caused by use of e-scooters have been on the rise since rideshare systems were introduced to the public in late 2017.
Kathleen Yaremchuk, M.D., Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery and the study’s senior author, said that a review of emergency visits in the last three years showed e-scooter injuries have increased significantly with many related to head and neck injuries.
Since e-scooters became a popular form of transportation in major cities, the number of injuries jumped significantly because they’ve become more available to more people.—Dr. Yaremchuk
Henry Ford researchers looked at available data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and found that between January 2009 and December 2019 there were more than 100,000 e-scooter related injuries reported. The study found that head and neck injuries made up nearly 28% of the total e-scooter related injuries reported.
The estimated national total of electric scooter cases from 2009 to 2019 was 103,943 (95% CI: 79,650–128,237). Incidence grew in 2019 to 8.63 cases per 100,000 person-years from 4.46 in 2018 to 2.42 in 2017. Head and neck injuries represented 28.5% of total injuries (weighted estimate = 29,610). The most common age group of head and neck injuries before 2018 was ≤17 years, but injuries in 18- to 44-year-olds grew significantly to become the most injured group in 2018 to 2019 (P < .001). From 2009 to 2017, incidence of head and neck injuries fell by 0.02 cases per 100,000 person-years, but cases grew by 1.22 cases per 100,000 person-years post-2017 (P < .001).—Kappagantu et al.
Researchers found that since the introduction of rideshare e-scooters, motorized vehicles that can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, injuries have increased as more people gravitate to the inexpensive and convenient form of transportation used mostly in crowded urban centers and on college campuses.
We hope our findings will help educate users of rideshare e-scooters about the potential for serious head and neck injuries and the safety precautions they should take.—Dr. Yaremchuk
E-scooters are part of the Micromobility revolution that has been called the future of urban transportation. Serious injuries, though, are mounting among riders who find themselves unguarded against cars and bicycles and fixed street ornaments such as light poles and signs.
The study found common types of e-scooter related head and neck injuries included:
Internal organs, including brain injuries, 32.5%
Contusions and abrasions, 15.6%
As a physician, I would recommend that people who use this mode of transportation wear a helmet and apply the same approach as when driving a car.—Samantha Tam, M.D., a Henry Ford otolaryngologist and study co-author
Safety research has shown that e-scooter accidents involved cars and ground obstacles such as curbs, poles and even manhole covers. Other factors that led to accidents include mechanical problems such as failing brakes and wheels, and distracted riders.
Kappagantu, A., Yaremchuk, K. and Tam, S. (2021), “Head and Neck Injuries and Electronic Scooter Use in the United States.” The Laryngoscope doi: 10.1002/lary.29620