TOA recently sat down with Austin orthopaedic surgeon Austin Hill, MD, MPH of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas to discuss the orthopaedic trauma department’s experience with scooter injuries in Austin.
TOA: What were your thoughts when the scooters first went live and you first started seeing injuries?
Austin Hill: The first patient we treated was a young female hit by a car while on her way to work. Initially this seemed to be a variation of an autoped injury, but over the following month we treated over 20 patients with isolated scooter trauma and quickly realized this was a significant new injury mechanism. Sadly, we’ve had 3 fatalities so far in Austin from scooter collisions, and the public is largely unaware of the serious risks associated with operating scooters.
TOA: How many injuries a day are you all facing at the emergency department and what types of injuries are you seeing?
Austin Hill: The ER sees 15 to 20 patients per month. The most common injuries are orthopaedic: lower extremity are more common than upper extremity, facial fractures, and closed head injuries.
TOA: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study earlier this month finding that nearly half of all electric scooter injuries in Austin were “severe.” Are you all working with the CDC on this study?
Austin Hill: Our ER has a weekly update internally. We are not enrolled in a CDC study; they apparently have other means of extracting and obtaining the data. Our ER and Trauma Faculty have initiated routine public safety awareness commentary through local news media outlets to improve public awareness, particularly surrounding helmet use.