If you live in San Francisco, you can look out your window to see dozens of people zooming by on electric scooters. Over the last year, the usage of these motorized scooters to get around the city has exploded with their ability to go 30 mph coupled with a riding range of 20 miles, making these scooters ideal for commuters and weekend warriors. However, with the increase in ridership comes an increase in scooter-related injuries.
Over the last five years, scooter-related injuries resulting in hospitalization have more than tripled nationwide. Recently, I had a patient who can be described as your typical “Tech” worker who had a fall off of a Scoot in the most “San Francisco” of ways.
Our patient was commuting to work on his Scoot when the car he was following came to a stop in the right lane. The patient noticed the stop and decided to whip around the car on the right side in the bike lane. What our patient didn’t notice was that this car was an Uber. As he began to pass the car on the right, the Uber passenger opened the door and struck our patient. When our patient was struck he fell off his scoot and onto a parked Tesla! Thus sustaining a clavicle fracture from the trauma of the incident. Does it get any more San Francisco than that?!
Dr. Sara Edwards a local, prominent orthopedic surgeon and Therapydia referral source has seen a recent uptick in Scooter injuries in her practice that correlates with the increase in ridership. According to Dr. Edwards, most of the scooter injuries that she sees occur in the extremities including shoulder, wrist, ankle and knee bone fractures, along with soft tissue injuries that usually require surgery. Head injuries are of concern as well due to riders not wearing helmets during shorter rides. Dr. Edwards has also observed many injuries that occur due to scoot riders scooting while intoxicated.
Though accidents like the one detailed above are rare, accidents do happen. Here are a few common scooter injuries and how to prevent them:
Head Injuries: Concussions and other head injuries are common among riders who have accidents without wearing a helmet.
Prevention: The best way to prevent head injuries is to ensure that you wear a helmet every time you ride.
Riding While Under The Influence: Being under the influence of alcohol while riding
Prevention: Simple don’t do it!
Shoulder and Wrist Injuries: Traumas from falling onto outstretched hands
Prevention: Speak to a physical therapist regarding proper fall technique. Learning how to fall and roll will lessen the impact.
Lower Leg injuries: Bracing/braking injuries if scooting too fast.
Prevention: Slowing down your scoot is the biggest preventative measure here. When stopping making sure your feet are positioned safely so the lower legs don’t sustain excessive forces.
Injuries are prone to happen with all types of transportation modalities. With our ever-evolving transportation modes here in San Francisco and other big cities as well, Physical Therapists are ready to help collaborate with orthopedic surgeons in evaluating, treating and returning our patients to Scooting.