Warning: Scooters May be Hazardous to Your Child's Health
You see them everywhere — kids on scooters flying off curbs, racing through parking lots, darting from house to house.
But as the popularity of scooters increases, so does the number of injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least 27,600 scooter-related injuries were reported between January and November 2000, with roughly 85 percent of these injuries occurring among children 15 and younger.
Safety experts recommend protective gear, particularly helmets, and adult supervision to help reduce the risk of injury, but even this may not be enough.
Researchers at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif., conducted a small survey of 14 children treated in a pediatric emergency department for scooter-related injuries.
Eleven of those injured suffered broken bones (one child’s skull was fractured), while the remaining three sustained skin abrasions and lacerations.
''Protective gear'' researchers wrote in the July issue of Pediatrics online, ''did protect the area it covered ... but scooter injuries expose so much of the body to injury that a child would need to wear full-body protective gear.''
Researchers also noted several contributing factors, including the child's age and inexperience, as well as the construction of scooters themselves.
Because the wheels are small and close together, even the smallest obstacle on the street, such as a pebble or crack in the pavement, can increase the scooter’s instability, and their light weight makes it easy to achieve relatively high speeds.
While there is not sure-fire way to protect kids from injury while riding a scooter, researchers recommend parents insist children always wear helmets and other protective gear. Parental supervison may also help.
And, because so many injuries are sustained on the first day of use, children should be encouraged to take it slow and practice basic riding skills before moving on to more advanced moves.
Source: Pediatrics online 2001; 108, e2.
This appeared in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE's official magazine.
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