Local doctors swamped with hoverboard injuries

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Christmas may be over and done, but a lot of people in our area are going into the new year hurt from one of the holiday season's hottest gifts.

Local doctors say they've been swamped this week with hoverboard injuries.

"This is a hoverboard epidemic," says Dr. Michael Rivlin, a hand and arm specialist at the Rothman Institute at Jefferson University Hospital.

Dr. Rivlin tells Action News he can't recall seeing anything like it.

Emergency rooms, urgent care centers and specialists are reportedly overloaded with people suffering from injuries after falling off hoverboards.

"Seven fractures in one and a half days of clinic," said Dr. Rivlin.

As of Monday, the government had 70 injury reports.

But doctors think they've exploded since then.

Celebrities like Mike Tyson have given the boards a spin, and taken a fall.

However, Dr. Rivlin says everyday folks are having accidents and getting hurt, too.

"I have a 10 year-old, a 36-year-old, a 9-year-old and 50-year-old patients," said Dr. Rivlin.

On YouTube, a priest in the Philippines makes using a hoverboard look easy.

However, Dr. Rivlin says balancing on a hoverboard is harder than it looks.

Most patients fell just starting out or trying to show their kids how to use the machine.

They lost their balance, trying to break their fall with their hand.

"The force can travel up, and it can break any bone along the chain. People can even have neck injuries and head injuries," said Dr. Rivlin.

Other physicians with the Rothman Institute at Jefferson and those around the country are sharing their experiences and say ankle and knee injuries are common.

The small wheels on hoverboards tend not to work well on uneven surfaces.

"Even a half an inch or a 1 to 2 centimeter unevenness in the ground can stop the hoverboard dead," said Dr. Rivlin. "And the torque or force required to stop you is so high that you'll just keep going."

Dr. Rivlin says wrist and elbow pads, and a helmet are a must for hoverboard users.

And don't use one without having a spotter.

"It's very important to have somebody there to brace you or catch you," said Dr. Rivlin.

Also, know your abilities and take it slow.

And stay away from traffic - on the streets and sidewalks.
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