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JOMS study: Scooter crashes significantly associated with head and face injuries

November 07, 2019

ROSEMONT, Ill. – Proper protective equipment, bicycle lanes and safety policies could help significantly reduce head and face injuries that result from crashes involving an electric scooter, a new study found.

Injuries to the head and face are common in electric scooter crashes, and the high number of injuries to the arms and legs suggest patients break their fall during a crash, according to the study published in the November issue of the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, the official journal of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).

Standing electric rental scooters – known as e-scooters – have become popular in large cities, the study states. Using an app on their mobile device, riders find and rent a scooter. Yet, riders are exposed to falls and injuries due to several factors, including ergonomics and bicycle lane availability, researchers wrote. Breaking a fall could be difficult when a rider’s hands are steering an e-scooter, making the rider vulnerable to head and face injuries.

Researchers examined medical records of 90 patients who went to the emergency department during the first seven months that e-scooters were available in Dallas, Texas, starting in July 2018. Injuries included cuts, concussions and fractures, and 58 percent of injuries involved the head and face. Of those injuries, 58 percent were severe.

Although the four e-scooter companies in the study have a disclaimer requiring riders to wear a helmet, none of the patients did so.

“The lack of helmet use, in conjunction with the high number of extremity injuries, has demonstrated the need for better communication of the risks associated with e-scooter use,” researchers wrote.

In addition, riders sign an agreement with the companies stating they will not drink alcohol while using the scooters, but nearly 18 percent of injuries involved alcohol use.

Infrastructure also poses a risk to riders, who have to share roads with motor vehicles or sidewalks with pedestrians in cities that lack bicycle lanes, the study adds.

However, using protective equipment and well-regulated bicycle lanes and following safety policies for cyclists and pedestrians could significantly decrease head and face injuries associated with e-scooter use, researchers concluded.

“Special focus on the factors contributing to traumatic events involving e-scooters, such as helmet use, pedestrian interaction, alcohol use and policies regarding scooter use, will help establish the best practices for the mitigation and treatment of such injuries,” researchers wrote.

The authors of “Craniofacial Injuries Seen With the Introduction of Bicycle-Share Electric Scooters in an Urban Setting” are from the Texas A&M College of Dentistry and Baylor University Medical Center Departments of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and U.S. Navy Dental Corps, Dallas, Texas: Bhavin Trivedi, DDS; Texas A&M College of Dentistry Department of Biomedical Sciences: Matthew J. Kesterke, PhD; and Ritesh Bhattacharjee, MPH; Baylor University Medical Center Division of Trauma: William Weber, MD; and Karen Mynar, BSN, RN; and Texas A&M College of Dentistry and Baylor University Medical Center Departments of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Likith V. Reddy, MD, DDS.

The full article can be accessed at JOMS.org/article/S0278-2391(19)30899-7/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.