AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the hottest Christmas gifts last year were hoverboards. But apparently not everyone can handle one as well as Michael J. Fox in the film “Back to the Future”. Hospitals and ERs across the country, including Dell Children’s Medical Center, report a big spike in injuries to hoverboard riders. That still isn’t keeping some from getting right “back in the saddle.”
Watching some of the spills on social media is kind of funny, unless you’re the one taking the fall. Concussions and broken bones are no joke. Walker Baty, an eighth grade basketball player in Liberty Hill, pleaded for a hoverboard. His mom, Krista Baty, said, “I was very reluctant. I am a nurse so I see other injuries from scooters and skateboards and things like that so I was resisitant. But Walker begged, dad gave in, and Santa brought it.”
Walker skipped the instructions and says he mastered the beast in fifteen minutes, “I just got on it and tried to ride it and tried to figure it out. Eventually I got it.” Until he took a spill Christmas Eve, and fractured his pelvis. He explains, “I stepped off the hoverboard and it went with my leg. It caught it and took it out from under me and I fell.” He went to see Dr. Scott Smith at Texas Orthopedics, who was not surprised, “The first day back from Christmas I already saw a wrist fracture on an eight year old. He’s in a cast now for six weeks, from his hoverboard. The first day back I saw two hoverboard injuries.”
Before you hop on board, reading instructions can’t hurt, also wearing protective gear like bicyclists. Dr. Smith says, “I think a helmet is essential. If you fall backward you’ll hit your head. If you land on your rear you can break your coccyx. Wrist or arm guards are essential. Most people don’t wear them. You’ve got to have an honest assessment of your abilities, and if you’re over the age of thirty, you ought to rethink it.”
Despite his injury, Walker was undeterred, “I got on the next day.” What did he learn? “Not to multitask while you’re on it.” Walker is also not wearing any protective gear. His mom says, “We will continue to have that discussion. What he tells me is that it’s not cool, mom.” Does she have any advice for other parents? “Well, think twice about it, it definitely needs to be a kid who has athletic ability and I would recommend the protective gear.”
Those hoverboards run approximately $500 and come with no product safety warning on them. The feds are looking into that. The problem has gotten worse. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission there were 29 emergency room reports of hoverboard injuries from August to mid-December. This past Monday alone, three days after Christmas, there were seventy ER hoverboard visits. The federal government is also investigating 22 reports of hoverboards bursting into flames, apparently because of faulty lithium batteries. That has prompted Amazon to stop selling most of the models.