Electric scooters sending more people to the hospital

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More and more people are giving those electric scooters in Memphis a try,  but more riders are also ending up in the hospital.

Melissa Spencer and a friend decided to rent scooters downtown one night.  She said it was first and probably last time on scooter.

Spencer said after she hit a curb, she lost control and went flying over the handlebar and head-first into the pavement.

“I got back up and tried to run the scooter,” Spencer said. “My girlfriend, her hands were full of my blood, so she was like, ‘We got to go.'”

Spencer didn’t realize until the next day that she broke her jaw. She needed surgery, and her mouth was wired shut.

Photo provided by Melissa Spencer

“I couldn’t open my mouth for two weeks, and then they slowly released it and let a few off at a time; that was not fun,” said Spencer.

While area hospitals don’t have exact numbers, doctors and nurses working in emergency rooms agreed they’re treating more and more scooter-related injuries.

Over the last year, paramedics and EMTs with the Memphis Fire Department have responded to about a dozen accidents involving scooters, and most of the patients were transported to a hospital.

The injuries involved everything from knee pain and abrasions to head and facial lacerations.

One rider, who didn’t want to talk on camera, ended up with staples in her head after falling off a scooter .

“Head injuries are going to be what can critically injure a patient, most obviously injuries to the head and neck, so wearing a helmet could prevent an injury that could kill a patient,” said Dr. Brian Hawkins with Methodist Emergency Medicine.

Doctors said riders should treat scooters like motorcycles and take necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Spencer admitted she had a few drinks before she got on the scooter and wasn’t wearing a helmet. Still, she said she wasn’t prepared for the speed of the scooter.

“After the fact, I was told you aren’t supposed to ride on the sidewalks, and that’s exactly why because there are too many cracks,” said Spencer

The City of Nashville tried to ban scooters altogether after a rider was hit and killed by a car. In Memphis, only riders under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets; however, the city said scooters should be ridden in the street, not sidewalk, and those involved in a crash while drinking could face DUI charges.

Spencer said she had to learn the hard way how dangerous scooters can be and said she probably won’t ride one again.

“Don’t ride them at night unless you are used to riding them a lot,” she said. “Beginners, I don’t feel they should ride them at all at night.”

The CDC said the use of electric scooters results in 20 injuries per 1,000 riders. They found almost half of all injuries involved head trauma that could be prevented by wearing a helmet.

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