As a child of the 80s and a fan of “Back to the Future”, I could not have been more excited when I heard that someone was making a hoverboard. Then I saw the product and it is not a “hoverboard” as it was portrayed in the movie, but that’s a discussion for a different article. Hoverboards, the two-wheeled balancing electric boards, continue to receive negative publicity after landing consumers in emergency rooms across the country. Injuries due to hoverboard falls continue to increase and several of the crashes, collisions and falls have been shared on social media showcasing the dangers of the controversial toy. Reported injuries include concussions, fractures, contusions, abrasions and injured internal organs.
I have seen numerous posts on social media showing users trying to get hoverboards to work and I have been tempted to post my office hours and phone number on each of them because there is one constant with all wheeled sports equipment: you are going to fall. Hoverboards are no different from roller blades, roller skates, skate boards or those wheeled shoes all the kids are wearing. No matter how athletic you believe you are, you are going to fall. In just about every picture I see, users are not wearing any protective equipment. While protective equipment such as wrist guards, helmets, elbow pads and knee pads will not prevent every injury, they will prevent some and will keep the bad ones from being worse.
Major retailers, such as Amazon and Overstock.com, have discontinued sales of certain brands of hoverboards due to the fire hazard associated with these items. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Chairman Elliot Kaye reports “While the fire hazard has generated significant attention, I do not want to downplay the fall hazard.” He states “I am also concerned that there is no safety standard in place for hoverboards. Strong safety standards protect consumers.” Safety precautions have been taken by more than 30 colleges and universities that have banned or partially banned use of hoverboards on campus.
I suggest safety tips that are the same for any wheeled sporting or entertainment equipment. Know your surroundings and make sure there is nothing in your path or possible paths that could stop you suddenly. Make sure you will not collide with any other people and hurt more than just yourself. Wear protective equipment such as a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads. If you do fall and injure yourself, do not put off seeking medical help.
Dr. Robert Flannery currently practices at Lemak Sports Medicine Gardendale and Hoover locations. For more information, call (205)631-8887 or (205)444-2025.