One of the hottest holiday gifts, the hoverboard — a self-balancing board with wheels that is similar to a skateboard or a Segway without a handle — took over top spot on the wish lists of kids and adults this past holiday season. Now, local urgent care and emergency departments are seeing the effects.
While the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) already had their eye on hoverboards due to reports of fires occurring during battery charging and use, they are now turning their attention to the fall hazard related to hoverboards. CPSC has received dozens of reports of injuries from hospitals across the country including concussions, fractures, contusions or abrasions — and even internal organ injuries.
“We have seen a number of cases related to hoverboard falls,” says Dr. Ahmad Bailony, a pediatrician affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. “When a kid — or anyone, really — falls, they automatically try to brace themselves, and that’s when you see injuries.”
Dr. Bailony is also concerned about the potential for head trauma from hoverboard-related falls. A concussion can occur when you experience a blow to the head during a fall, which jars or shakes the brain inside the skull and can lead to serious problems with movement, brain function and speech.
So, what’s a parent to do if Santa brought a hoverboard this past Christmas? Make sure it’s always used under adult guidance and with care.
“The best solution to hoverboard-related injuries is to prevent them,” says Dr. Bailony.
He recommends the following seven safety guidelines:
- Read the directions before operating. Hoverboards have age and weight guidelines, and require specific body movements to effectively get on and off, turn, go forward and backward, and increase and decrease speed.
- To limit the risk of fire, follow battery charging directions closely and never leave the hoverboard alone during charging.
- Never allow children to operate a hoverboard alone.
- Riders should always wear protective gear including a helmet and wrist, elbow, knee and ankle guards.
- Only allow use of the hoverboard on smooth surfaces away from hazards including automobiles, cyclists and other riders.
- Make sure riders wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing not likely to snag on passing objects.
- Remind riders to keep their attention on riding and the landscape before them — don’t let friends, cellphones, selfie-sticks — or anything else that could cause an accident — distract them.
If your child falls from a hoverboard, Dr. Bailony says that minor nicks or bruises can likely be treated at home with basic first aid and a little TLC. However, if the level of pain is such that the extremity can't be used or if there is swelling, then it should be checked by a doctor.
He further advises that if your child falls on his or her head and complains of headache, vomiting, nausea or dizziness, then those are signs of a more severe injury. You should call your pediatrician, or head to urgent care or the ER for immediate attention.