Call for tighter e-scooter regulations following injury analysis

People are most likely to suffer e-scooter injuries at the weekend – and after drinking alcohol – doctors report today.

A study of such injuries in four emergency departments in Berlin, Germany, over six months, recorded 248 patients who were treated after sustaining an e-scooter injury.

Two EDs asked patients to fill out questionnaires and in total, the researchers found the riders’ average age was 29, but ranged from 5 to 81, with most of the injuries occurring in people aged between 26 and 40. Just over half (52%) of the patients were male.

Other findings, reported in Emergency Medicine Journal, found three-quarters of the incidents occurred between July and September and there were peaks between noon and 6pm (40%) and between 6pm and midnight (29%).

The researchers recorded higher e-scooter injuries at the weekend at 58%, compared to weekdays.

Leg and arm injuries were recorded in 178 patients, with arms more likely to be fractured than legs (17% vs 6%) and 21 of these patients required surgery. 13 of the 17 patients with a leg fracture required surgery.

There were 135 head injuries sustained by 101 patients: one patient had a brain bleed. And 32 also had a traumatic brain injury of mild severity, of whom 22 were admitted to hospital.

One in five patients tested positive on the alcohol breath test and the team found a positive breath test was associated with a fivefold increase in the odds of traumatic brain injury and a doubling in the odds of hospital admission.

Although the study was confined to four central emergency departments in one city and patients at only two of the emergency departments filled in the questionnaire, the researchers say there should be tighter regulations for e-scooter users.

“These should include the wearing of helmets, an age limit of 18 years, a ban on alcohol and a strict adherence to traffic regulations, such as avoiding driving on pavements,” they write.

“By performing technical modifications to the e-scooter platforms, providers can help to eliminate an additional source of injury.”

Uluk D, Lindner T, Dahne M et al. E-scooter incidents in Berlin: an evaluation of risk factors and injury patterns. Emergency Medicine Journal 8 June 2021; doi 10.1136/emermed-2020-210268


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