Scooter-Related Injuries Surge Over Summer

ByABC News
September 5, 2000, 7:17 PM

W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 5 -- They are the fad of the moment but thosesleek, fold-up foot scooters have sent nearly 9,500 Americans,mostly children, to emergency rooms with injuries this year.

The number of scooter-related injuries has surged this summer,with more than 4,000 in August alone compared with fewer than 500in May, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said today.Children younger than 15 account for nearly nine out of 10injuries.

These are certainly not your grandmothers scooters from the50s, Ann Brown, the safety commissions chairwoman, said in aninterview. Many kids are ending up in hospital emergency roomsinstead of classrooms.

The safety commission says it had received reports of 9,411scooter injuries this year as of Aug. 27. The majority of injurieswere cuts, bruises and sprains, but a third were broken bones ordislocations, mostly in the arms and hands. Hospitals treated andreleased nearly all of those injured. There have been no deathsrelated to the new scooters.

Dr. Jill Posner, 33, who practices emergency pediatric medicineat Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, said she saw her firstscooter-related injury in June, but more have been coming in overthe summer.

People dont think about the fact that these scooters can beas dangerous as bikes and skateboards, Posner said, adding thatshes seen children with serious head injuries who were struck bycars while riding scooters.

The scooters, first widely sold in the United States late lastyear, are souped-up versions of the kick-powered scooters madepopular in the 1950s. Their popularity soared this summer and thescooter industry expects to sell 2 million to 5 million newscooters this year, the commission said. Thats at least a $200million business, up from virtually zero sales last year.

Safety Gear Rarely UsedBrown said nearly two-thirds of the injuries could have beenprevented or lessened if the riders had been wearing protectiveequipment. The safety commission recommends scooter riders wear thesame safety gear suggested for inline skaters: a helmet, wristguards and knee and elbow pads. Such equipment can cost less than$35.