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ER physician recommends protective gear for popular hands-free scooters


ER physician recommends protective gear for popular hands-free scooters


It’s the toy that’s on almost every child’s Christmas list this year, but hands-free motorized scooters come with a risk for severe injuries, according to an emergency room physician at the west campus of the Texas Children’s Hospital.


Head injuries, concussions, sprains and fractures are the biggest concern with any moving hands-free device, says Dr. Kay Leaming-Van Zandt.


These motorized self-balancing scooters, or “hoverboard” segways as they’re sometimes called, are no exception.


“I have seen and treated a few patients within The Texas Children’s emergency centre with elbow and wrist fractures due to falling off of the hoverboard segways,” she says.


Andrea Knipfel bought her 13-year old son Matt one of the devices for his birthday. After an hour, he was zipping confidently around her house and the neighborhood. He’s been lucky, while some of his friends have had near misses.


 “We’ve had a lot of friends come over and want to try it,” says Knipfel. “We have kids who have literally fallen backwards and scared the heck out of me because I’m afraid they’re going to bang their head.”


Dr. Leaming-Van Zandt says riders should wear protective gear like a safety-certified helmet, wrist guards and elbow and knee pads.


Knipfel says it’s also a good idea to start learning on carpet to protect against falling. And, she says riders need to pay attention to the beeping noise that signals your battery is about to die.

“It’s got about a 2 to 3 hour charge so you can be riding on it, and when it starts to beep, if you’ve been riding for too long and it stops, you will come off of it,” says Knipfel.


According to Hov Board, which reviews the devices online, the best model for new riders is the “basic” with two 7-inch wheels. It has built in gyroscopes to help keep the rider steady and average speed is 7 miles per hour.


Due to patent troubles, this design has been copied by many different companies and depending on the name brand, it could cost anywhere from $300-$1,500.


There’s even a junior Little Bear model designed for smaller kids, but Dr. Leaming-Van Zandt says children under 5 should not be riding hands-free devices.


Hov Board recommends buying from a reputable seller on Amazon with a good warranty and refund policy. You can also find them online at Kohl’s and this holiday season.


“Hov” boards have exploded in popularity, especially on social media. Even the Houston Texans’ Arian Foster rides his to a game in order to “save his legs.” 


So, are walking-replacement devices here to stay or are they just the latest fad?


“He doesn’t walk anywhere now,” says Andrea Knipfel. “It’s so aggravating!” noting Matt has scratched a few kitchen cabinets with his fancy new segway.


Dr. Leaming-Van Zandt says it’s up to parents to buy their kids proper safety equipment and make sure they are riding responsibly. And, son’t forget to promote the benefits of walking on two legs!


 “Parents and caregivers need to take an active role in ensuring their children (are safe and) have a balanced schedule that includes exercise and physical activity.”