Celebrating Smiles | 23 August, 2019

E-scooter injuries a tragedy and avoidable

Dr Andrea Shepperson reports that Lumino City Dental at Quay Park has already treated one patient with a Lime e-scooter related injury, and says it is inevitable that there will be more.

Lime e-scooters have been made available to the public in Auckland and Christchurch, and in just two weeks, have created much attention, both positive and negative.

The e-scooters are only on trial in both cities but their roll-out hasn’t been without incident – ACC has received claims covering concussions, lacerations, punctures and brain injuries.

Andrea, who is also an Independent Clinical Advisor at Lumino The Dentists says her patient, who in a bid to avoid pedestrians while riding a e-scooter braked and lost control, hit the pavement face-first.

She says the patient suffered concussion, pushed a front tooth up into the gum and now faces extensive treatment, which wouldn’t be “quick-fix”.

“The treatment is likely to involve braces to reposition the tooth, and the tooth will need root canal treatment as the nerve dies. The long-term impact of tooth damage for patients, in extreme cases resulting in tooth loss, is a tragedy and avoidable,” says Andrea.

“The accident knocked and displaced the tooth and it was lucky the accident wasn’t more serious, it could have been a brain injury.

“Concussion is a serious medical injury, and dental injuries can be life-long. They can be permanent.”

She said a helmet may have helped, but helmets were not easily available, and few users carried personal helmets around.  The challenge of a shared pedestrian space, coupled with silent speed, hard wheels and suspension means that rough surfaces, sudden changes in direction or emergency braking can result in riders falling off.

ACC picking up the pieces

It has been over two weeks since the scooters launched in New Zealand, and ACC has already dealt with 38 claims. In Auckland, 27 ACC claims were made over the first two weeks, and 11 in Christchurch.

ACC says the injuries range from lacerations to fracture and concussion – the latter considered a Traumatic Brain Injury by the Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has called for an urgent council report on safety issues.

While the scooters are currently only on a trial, thousands more could be rolled out in the next few months – companies Onzo and Wave have roll-outs scheduled for November 10 and November 30. Onzo has approval to operate 1000 scooters and Wave will begin with 500 scooters.