Spike in Scooter-Related Injuries Among Children Sounds Alarm on Safety Measures

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The escalating popularity of manual and electric scooters across Canada and globally, particularly amongst children, is encountering a matching upswing in concerns over their safety as reports of accident-related injuries continue to rise. High-speed operations, particularly in spaces teeming with traffic, pose significant danger when using these increasingly prevalent modes of transport.

Alongside the surging global popularity of scooters, a corresponding rise in emergency room visits prompted by scooter-related injuries is being noted, according to Meagan Doyle, a pediatric emergency physician and the trauma medical director at McMaster University. Regrettably, emergency department personnel generally advise against the use of these transportation devices due to their questionable safety.

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A 2022 research report published by Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada unveiled data correlating to 523 hospital cases associated with electric scooter injuries between January 2012 and December 2019. This data gathered from 11 pediatric and nine general hospitals countrywide indicated that 57 per cent, or 299 children aged between two and 14 years, were among this number.

It is suggested that an even greater influx of children presenting with scooter-related injuries is flooding the pediatric emergency department this year. It is challenging, however, to draw accurate comparisons with previous data due to the novelty of electric scooters, whose widespread availability is a relatively recent development.

Scooter propulsion can occur through one of two ways – manual force exerted by one foot against the ground or electric power. The vast majority of accidents, it seems, originate from those scooters outfitted with motors, which inherently facilitate rapid velocity, thus elevating the risk of injury.

According to Doyle, reported injuries commonly encompass head injuries including concussions and brain injuries, facial scrapes, and arm injuries such as forearm or elbow fractures. These can range from minor traumas taking between four to eight weeks to recover from, to severe afflictions necessitating sedation and a procedure to rectify bone displacement.

The results of a recent U.K. study conducted to determine the risk posed by electric scooters to children revealed that 50% of ten identified patients required orthopedic surgery subsequent to an accident involving these devices and 40% required admittance to the hospital’s emergency department.

Notwithstanding the frequency of injuries, hospital visits are not always deemed necessary. Nonetheless, a range of symptoms may signal that a doctor consultation is required, including ongoing confusion, persistent vomiting, a lack of proper awakening, or an aversion towards using an arm. This could imply the presence of a fracture that requires professional inspection.

Doyle recommends urgent care as an excellent alternative to emergency room attention for injuries that demand x-ray diagnostics, except in the case of bending or deformities, obvious dislocations, or visible consciousness level alterations.

To significantly mitigate the risk of injuries while riding a scooter, it is suggested that users adopt preventive measures such as wearing helmets and operating the device sober. Limiting to one user per scooter and practising situational awareness on busy streets will also help to evade potential collisions with vehicles or pedestrians.

Lamentably, current policies and infrastructure across many cities do not sufficiently account for scooters’ safe operation, leading to concerns about their ability to seamlessly integrate into existing traffic. Therefore, implementing robust policies and creating safe infrastructures are integral to minimize scooter-related injuries and ensure user safety.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.