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JOMS study: Motorized scooters result in more severe injuries than nonmotorized scooters

September 9, 2020

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Injuries involving motorized scooters result in more than triple the hospital admission rate of injuries involving nonmotorized scooters and may present a public health issue, according to a new study.

Compared to traditional, nonmotorized scooters, motorized scooters lead to more serious injuries, researchers concluded in the study published in the September issue of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, the official journal of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).

For the study, 11,916 records covering 20 years from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System were analyzed. Researchers included injuries from motorized and nonmotorized scooters involving the head, face, eyeball, mouth or ear. Of the records, 9.5 percent were motorized scooter injuries.

Researchers found motorized scooter injuries more often occurred in older riders (average age of 24 compared to 8.5 among unmotorized scooter injuries), involved the head (55 percent) and resulted in a concussion, fracture or internal organ injury.

The hospital admission rate for motorized scooter injuries was nearly 4 times higher than that for nonmotorized scooter injuries. After researchers controlled influencing variables, the admission rate for motorized scooter injuries remained double compared to nonmotorized scooter injuries. The higher admission rate likely represents the characteristics and severity of the injuries, according to the study.

In the last decade, popularity of motorized scooters has increased, and injuries on these scooters rose over the study’s most recent five-year period, from 5.8 percent of total scooter injuries in 2014 to 22.1 percent in 2018.

Researchers considered factors leading to head and facial injuries related to motorized scooters. Collision speed or fall height may explain the head trauma observed in adults, and high speed and force could lead to the higher number of fractures, the study notes. In addition, standard half-helmets provide limited facial protection, and quickly slowing down can result in a rider falling over the handlebars.

The study recommends policymakers explore evaluating their helmet policies and indicated state governments have reason to establish stricter regulations for “powered transporters” due to the chance of severe injury. Rules and regulations on motorized scooters change and vary by state and city, and few states limit age of rider and speed, the study notes. With motorized scooter injuries occurring in young adults, substance use could be a concern, researchers added.

“Although nonmotorized scooters are predominately used by children, policymakers should appreciate that the age distribution of motorized scooter users is most similar to that of motorcycles,” researchers said. “In light of these findings and with the recent advent and expansion of ride-sharing companies, the growing supply and accessibility of rentable electric scooters may create a public health concern. Scooter companies can consider adding protections to ensure that riders are capable of safely and responsibly operating their vehicles.”

The authors of “Are Motorized Scooters Associated With More Severe Craniomaxillofacial Injuries?” are Kevin C. Lee, DDS, MD, from the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at NewYorkPresbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, N.Y.; Keyur Naik, DDS, MD; Brendan W. Wu, DMD, MMSc; and Vasiliki Karlis, DMD, MD; from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York; Sung-Kiang Chuang, DMD, MD, DMSc, from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, Pa.; Brockton Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Inc in Brockton, Mass.; and the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton; and Sidney B. Eisig, DDS, from the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

The full article can be accessed at JOMS.org/article/S0278-2391(20)30441-9/fulltext.

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The Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery is published by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons to present to the dental and medical communities comprehensive coverage of new techniques, important developments and innovative ideas in oral and maxillofacial surgery. Practice-applicable articles help develop the methods used to handle dentoalveolar surgery, facial injuries and deformities, TMJ disorders, oral and head and neck cancer, jaw reconstruction, anesthesia and analgesia. The journal also includes specifics on new instruments and diagnostic equipment, and modern therapeutic drugs and devices.