Two Most Common Hoverboard Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Published on in Orthopaedics Update

In 2015, we met the hoverboard. For a while, you couldn’t get online, go outside, or watch the news without seeing every kid’s favorite new toy. The compact size and simple design are the perfect recipe for fun, but as quickly as hoverboards became a must-have toy, hoverboard-related injuries began turning up in our ED and specialty care centers. Between November 2015 and January 2016, there were almost 10 times more hoverboard related injuries than in the prior three months. Orthopedic surgeon Apurva Shah, MD, MBA, and clinical research coordinator, Michelle Ho, reviewed all hoverboard injuries seen at CHOP and found these two injuries were most common:

  • Distal radius fracture. The most common fracture seen was a distal radius fracture, usually occurring from a patient using an outstretched hand to break a fall.
    • What to do? Recommend that your patients use wrist guards when riding a hoverboard. In simulated forward falls, wrist guards were found to reduce the impact force through the hand at the wrist by almost 50 percent.
  • Open and closed phalangeal fractures. Beyond falling from a hoverboard, the second most common mechanism of injury was finger entrapment between the wheel and wheel-well. Anecdotally, patients reported either believing the device was turned off or catching their own fingers within the wheel-well while performing a trick. These behaviors primarily lead to open and closed phalangeal fractures.
    • ​​What to do? Make sure your patients understand the risks of putting their fingers near the wheel-well of their hoverboard.

After receiving reports of injuries and fires resulting from hoverboards, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated and ultimately declared all hoverboards on the market unsafe in February 2016, leading many retailers to stop selling them. While this may slow the sales of new hoverboards, a review of sales at Walmart, Sears, Sharper Image and online retailers Amazon, SkyMall, and eBay reported that approximately 2.5 million hoverboards were sold in the United States in 2015.

With the start of summer and good weather, we anticipate that hoverboards will become a common sight again. Using what we have learned over the past year, we hope that these tips will allow children to be safe and enjoy their hoverboards.

Hoverboard sales numbers:

Wrist falls: Burkhart TA, Andrews DM. The effectiveness of wrist guards for reducing wrist and elbow accelerations resulting from simulated forward falls. J Appl Biomech. 2010;26(3):281-289.