Ask the Expert: Hoverboard Safety

Self-Balancing two wheel electric scooter. Alternative transport.

In this week’s installment of Ask the Expert, Dr. Emily Dodwell, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, answers questions on hoverboard safety.

Q. The Hoverboard is looking to be a popular holiday gift this year. How do you recommend children stay safe while riding Hoverboards?

A. Although the term hoverboard first was popularized with Marty McBride and the movie Back to the Future, the term has now come to mean a 2 wheeled self-balancing electric scooter. Although the maximum speed for most devices is about 6 miles per hour injuries can still occur. Falling off the hoverboard, or enduring a collision while riding are the most common mechanisms of injury. Just as we have our children wear helmets for cycling, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding, helmets are recommended for use with hoverboards. Knee, elbow and wrist guards may also be helpful in avoiding or minimizing injuries as falling onto knees, elbows and wrists can be expected. Riders should ensure they are riding in well-lit areas, and that they stay aware of surrounding people and objects.

Q. What types of injuries can be caused by Hoverboards?

A. Typically hoverboard injuries involve a fall or collision. These can result in injuries to whatever part of the body receives the impact or force of the collision or fall. Similar to cycling, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding and other sports, one of the most serious injuries that can occur is an impact to the head. Depending on the circumstances, this impact can cause brain damage or even death.  Other injuries may include bruises, sprains and fractures to the torso, arms or legs.

Q. Have patients come to you with injuries from Hoverboards?

A. We have seen a number of injuries from hoverboards, primarily mild injuries such as ankles sprains and wrist fractures.

Q. Do you have any concerns about the safety of these?

A. There is no proof that hoverboards are more dangerous than skateboards, bicycles or other similar devices. However, as tilting and balance are needed to control the device, many children need time to acquire these new skills, so falls and collisions should be expected particularly early on. Further, as hoverboards move slowly, some people may use them in areas that they might not think to ride a bike or a skateboard. Hoverboards should not be used on roads. Using them in congested areas, such as busy sidewalks or hallways could result in injury to your child or other people they collide with. Try to provide your child with guidance on safe areas to ride the hoverboard, and provide supervision.

Q. What would you tell parents they should consider before buying a Hoverboard for their children?

A. If you are considering buying a hoverboard for your child, ensure your child has appropriate safety gear. At the minimum, have your child wear a helmet, and consider wrist, elbow and knee pads. Consider where you would have your child use the hoverboard; make sure there is an uncongested smooth surface for them to learn on. Using a hoverboard does require balance and practice. Consider if your child has mastered other skills such as using a bicycle, scooter or skateboard. Children need supervision when they are learning a new skill, so determine if you have time to supervise your child as he or she learns how to control the hoverboard and use it safely.


Dodwell_5017_PDr. Emily Dodwell is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Lerner Children’s Pavilion. She specializes in general pediatric orthopedic surgery, pediatric trauma, cerebral palsy, and limb deformity correction. Dr. Dodwell treats children of all ages and sees patients with a wide variety of problems including fractures, ligament and tendon injuries, and joint dislocations.

Topics: Featured, Pediatrics
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


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  1. i have just received a hoverboard for Christmas today my stepfather was riding it and thought he could ride it a bit to well. so the wheel got stuck on our Christmas tree skirt it flung him back and he landed on a very hard Christmas present. He walked out of the room and collapsed in a different room. His face was ghostly white and he was sweating like crazy.after laying there for about 25 minutes he was able to get and walk around, but he could still barley breathe he had the wind complete knocked out of him.later in the evening he was not able to walk very well or move around. He says that when he is laying down or sitting he is fine but when he stands up he is in very very bad pain.

    1. Hi, thank you for reaching out. We recommend that you consult with your treating physician who can better advise your injury. If you wish to receive any care at Hospital for Special Surgery, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 800-796-0482 for further assistance.