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Segway injuries: Collapsed lung, fractures, brain trauma
September 27th, 2010
05:59 PM ET

Segway injuries: Collapsed lung, fractures, brain trauma

Injuries from Segways appear to be on the rise, according to one study based on data from a Washington, D.C., hospital.

The research article was released online Monday in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, shortly after police in England reported that James Heselden, the 62-year-old owner of the Segway company, had died - apparently in an accident involving one of his upright two-wheeled vehicles.

Heselden’s body was pulled from the River Wharfe in northern England on Sunday, according to police. A Segway-type vehicle was recovered from the river, police said.

Researchers in the department of emergency medicine at The George Washington University observed several Segway-related injuries and looked into these incidents between April 2005 to November 2008 by examining electronic medical data.

In 2006, the hospital's emergency department had three cases, then eight cases in 2007, and 25 in the first 11 months of 2008.

Dr. Mary Pat McKay, lead author, said it’s likely that there were more cases, but there is no code for Segway injuries in the electronic medical records. The number of Segway injuries is only a small fraction considering its emergency department receives about 49,000 to 63,000 adult patients annually.

Segway-related injuries tend to be severe, McKay said.

“Several cases involved the rider unintentionally striking an immobile object, including a park bench, a signpost, a light pole, and a tree,” the authors wrote in the article.

Ten of the 41 patients (24.4 percent) were admitted to the emergency department and four of them had to stay in the Intensive Care Unit for traumatic brain injuries.   No deaths were reported in the study.

Patients also required procedures to repair fractures, Achilles tendon tear, brain contusions, collapsed lung, and fractured ribs.

“I think what happens is that people are going forward and the top speed is 12.5 miles,” McKay said. “Their hands are on the steering mechanism and they hit something, stop suddenly and they fall off.   They can’t get their hands out to save them.  It’s not the same thing as falling from standing… We were concerned that it could be as severe as being hit by a car.”

Segways entered the American market in 2001 and are used by law enforcement, tour groups and even commuters. As in most places in the United States, Washington, D.C.,does not require helmets for Segways - although the tour groups require them.

“The first thing is wear a helmet and be aware of what’s in front of you,” said McKay, a professor of emergency medicine and public health at George Washington University.  “I suspect one of the things that go on a tour, is that people are looking up at things they’re gliding past - that’s how they end up running into what’s in front of them.”

“All of our injuries were from falling off from the Segway,” she said.  “They were running into something immobile.  They simply were coming to a halt and falling.”


soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. moribundman

    Everyone gets hurt some day. ;-)

    September 27, 2010 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. belyung

    For these kinds of invention, it has wheels and drives and rides on road. It should be treated as bicycle. People need to have helmet at least. And, it should have brakes in case of sudden stopped.

    September 28, 2010 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nepawoods

      Brakes in case of sudden stop? And what will the brakes do?

      September 28, 2010 at 00:59 | Report abuse |
    • Scrit

      Brakes? Have you ever seen one of these vehicles? It has a single axle with two wheels, very different than a bicycle. All brakes would do is to further accelerate your head towards the pavement/obstacle/etc...

      September 28, 2010 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • Annie

      You ARE the brake when riding a Segway. You lean forward to move forward and you lean back to stop. If you want to stop fast, you lean back fast. You can stop on a dime. Also, Segway and Segway authorized dealers recommend wearing a helmet. Segway tour guides require that helmets be worn during tours. And, you don't ride them on the road, you ride them on the sidewalk. In most states they fall under the category of EPAMD (Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device) which means you're a pedestrian and have to follow pedestrian rules (aka, don't be in the road). Most importantly, there will always be a group of people who push things to the limit and these are the people that tend to wreck on their Segways. It's unfortunate that people only hear about the wrecks rather than the fun and usefulness (folks with mobility issues, police, etc.)

      September 28, 2010 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
  3. Robert

    I will never ride one of these again after a friend of mine was badly injured on one. Its too easy to hurt yourself on the machine since it flips you forward when you hit something, like the movement of swatting a flyswatter. And since its not a natural flip and the downward motion accelerates it, you have no time to catch yourself so you could land on your head, break your shoulder, back or even tear muscles in your legs trying to catch yourself. The machine is a novel concept, however learning to drive one runs counter to human nature so its quite easy to crash, and forget cruise control because you WILL crash if not paying attention at all times.

    September 28, 2010 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sam

    Of all the dumb ways to get yourself stiffed.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mark

    "and 25 in the first 11 months of 2008."

    .....

    really? first ...11...months.....so basically all of 2008? lol

    September 28, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yaeger

      If you got paid the first 11 months of 2008, would you feel like you got paid for all year?

      September 28, 2010 at 16:32 | Report abuse |
  6. WomenOnGuard

    Some people think they are invincible or simply don't want to ruin their hairdo. It doesn't take much brains to know that if you are going up to 12 miles an hour, you should wear a helmet. I constantly see people on motorcycles w/no helmet on...
    The product is good, the people who use them might be a little on the dumb side!

    September 28, 2010 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Annie

      Exactly, thank you :)

      September 28, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • BQsauce

      Natural selection... let it happen.

      September 28, 2010 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • Artsee

      I agree that it's a great product, but it does have a major design flaw: all of the controls are on the left hand. When faced with a sudden unexpected need to turn right, the natural inclination is to use the right hand as when one is on a bicycle. More than once I've come close to crashing simply because of that flaw.

      September 29, 2010 at 06:30 | Report abuse |
    • Frankie

      "The product is good. The people whu use them might be a little on the dumb side." Actually, the product is very good, but it's the people who don't wear a helmet are a little on the dumb side. I've rented them for fun in the past, and didn't wear a helmet. The renter didn't even mention it. A govenor on the rentals kept the top speed to 7 MPH.

      September 29, 2010 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
    • Edna

      You can cut the butter into the dry idneenirgts for the topping with a fork, but I really recommend a pastry cutter.a0 I don’t have many specialty tools in my kitchen and don’t make a lot of pastry, but this is onea0 piece worth having because it is so much faster.a0 Resist the temptation to add cinnamon to the recipe – at least until you’ve made it with just the nutmeg at least once.a0 The ever so subtle flavor of the nutmeg enhances the peaches sublimely!a0 a0a0Happy Birthday, Wheels!

      August 1, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  7. Security

    Put training wheels on them. One wheel in the front should do it.

    September 28, 2010 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hampton

      Nicht nur in Hessen auch im Saarland darf man ein Mofaschild an den Segway pappen und damit Passanten uemharfn. In Saarbrfccken fe4hrt sogar die Polizei damit herum.

      August 3, 2012 at 23:48 | Report abuse |
  8. anon

    In unrelated news, the inventor of irony has just died ironically.

    September 28, 2010 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • e-man

      The INVENTOR is alive and well. The guy who bought the company died. It helps to read the articles BEFORE commenting on them.

      September 28, 2010 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
  9. hogan

    This is dumb. The only reason this is getting attention is that the injuries involve a Segway. These injuries occur everyday on a bicycle.

    September 28, 2010 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. mike

    Yet another case of the media making something out of nothing. As numerous other posts have pointed out, the more Segways there are, the more accidents there will be. It's a machine. People misuse machines all the time, even the owner of the company. The media, and the "researchers" need to get a grip and worry about something worth worrying about. Remember the old saying, "have the patience to endure the things you can't control, the strength to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference".

    September 28, 2010 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. billie

    OK, Hogan, this article is not "dumb," and Mike, perhaps people aren't getting hurt because they "misuse machines." The point is that Segway injuries are serious. There is nothing dumb about ending up in the ICU with a TBI. I have a friend that ran into a wet spot and flew head over handlebars. He was badly hurt.

    September 28, 2010 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. marly

    I'm a female over 60..have ridden a Segway many times. Just like any people moving machine - you have to watch where you are going, pay attention to your path and wear a helmet. Motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, four-wheelers, roller skates, scooters, go carts, skateboards, automobiles, and trucks, all move people and all can cause injuries. Segway is no different - people should ride them with caution. Personally, I consider them a fun, safe mode of transportation - but I wear a helmet.

    September 28, 2010 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bill W

    Are these any more dangerous than a moped, a skateboard or a bicycle?

    September 28, 2010 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Stacy

    "Injuries from Segways appear to be on the rise"? 3 in 2006 and 25 in 2008. Did it ever occur to the author that injuries may not be on the rise when you correlate the increasing number of injuries to the increased usage of Segways? Critical thinking, people!

    September 28, 2010 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Craig

    Here come the nanny state lovers wanting a law requiring people to wear helments to save them from themselves. Thank God I live in a state with No helment laws. I Love riding my motorcycle without a helmet! God Bless Freedom (or what we have left)

    September 29, 2010 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frankie

      Craig, you ignorant fool. Personally I don't care if dummies like you kill yourselves because your to macho to take precautions. But go outside your selfish thinking for one minute and think about the person who may go through the rest of their lives living with terrible guilt because they were involved in an accident with you and you died due to head injuries that would have otherwise been prevented if you had a helmet on. Yes, Craig, you're right. SOMEONE has make helmet laws to save selfish, ignorant, macho, unthinking dumbasses like you from yourselves, if only for the guilt other people would feel from hurting or killing selfish, ignorant, macho, unthinking dumbasses like you. You jerk.

      September 29, 2010 at 09:17 | Report abuse |
  16. Juan Carlos

    When ridding your motrocycle in South American desert of Los Andes try http://www.rent-motorcycle-chile.com . I tried them of a sweet ride tour all-inclusive style. Had to worry about nothing but having a good time.

    November 1, 2010 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Scott Curtis

    I have owned a Segway for about 4 years now and ride it almost every day.I have over 4000 miles on mine and my girlfriend has had one for over 6 months now-she also rides almost every day. We use these machines for everyday erends and fun rides (glides) as well. I have fallen several times and each time I have gone back and gone through what made the accident happend. It has always been MY own fault. I have tought over 3oo people to correctly ride and have worked with my local dealer(Silicone Segway in Picifica Ca.) on several tours and parades as a docent. I am convenced that these are safe and sane machines to own and use . I am also a retired s.a.e.(Society of Automotive Engineer) so I have the background to state all these things here. I have dispelled many, many rumors and outright lies about these wonderful machines over the past few years and will continue to do so whenever possible. The more you really understand about these the more you appreciate them . The later version( I-2's) are really very easy to ride and extreamly easy to controle. I would really like everyopne that is a douting thomas out there to go and take a lesson a tour with proper guidence BEFORE they just wright something. Over and over as I read countless blogs I have read mistake after mistake in peoples thinking or lack of knowledge. I guess anyone can sit at a keyboard and type anything and people will read it and believe it -O-WELL I'm glad that I'm not one of thoes. I sincerely hope that anyone reading this will consider some of thoes sources . I will be glad to eduacate anyone as to the REAL reasons for this product. Pleqase e-mail me at scottsprowlerstuff@yahoo and I'll try to respond to you personally as soon as I can. I hope this all helps.

    January 19, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. realbeats

    Well, I am so excited that I already have found beats studio michaeljackson,this your report because I already have been searching for the purpose of certain info about it nearly three hours.

    August 17, 2011 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply

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