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Severe Trauma: From Onewheel to ER to ICU & Lessons Learned

by freshlycharged

When I first saw Chris’ post on the OW Owner’s Facebook Group about the traumatic injury he suffered from on his Onewheel I could not stop thinking about it. This is what Chris said on his original post:

“Wear a helmet! I love my one wheel xr and have just gotten over 100 miles on it. Feeling really comfortable and trying to break the top speed but I nosedived at 22 mph with no helmet. I have no recollection of the fall but was found wondering around bloodied and no shirt on. Major Concussion with a minor brain bleed , 3 CT scans, 1 night in the ICU, 8 stitches to my face and bunch of road rash and I can’t wait to get back on it. But I will definitely be wearing a helmet!” -Chris (Onewheel Owner’s Facebook Group post)

After seeing the pictures and reading his post, I knew immediately that I needed to find out more about his story.

The Onewheel is amazing and I love it. At the same time the Onewheel scares me. How dangerous can the Onewheel be? Am I putting myself, my family, and friends at risk by riding and letting others ride my Onewheels?

So I reached out to Chris and he graciously granted me this interview.

Interview with a Onewheel Trauma Victim

Me: Sorry to hear about your onewheel accident. I am a huge fan of the Onewheel and I even own two, an XR and a Plus. But I feel there needs to be more public awareness of the dangers of pushing the machine past its limits. I have a website I started for this purpose. Right now it’s mostly about safety gear and simple Onewheel tips but I am writing an article on nosedives. Can I use your story in my article?

Chris: Love what you’re doing! Feel free to use my story. Just note that even after my injuries I can’t wait to get carving again. This time with a helmet and a new respect for the pavement.

Me: Awesome, Chris. Get well soon. You’ve been more than generous to allow me to use your story. Would you have any interest in answering 5 or so questions for a mini interview?

Chris: Sure.

Me: Thanks Chris. Here are some questions… #1. What had been your experience with the OW up until the accident?

Chris: I wouldn’t call myself a noob, I also own and ride a boosted board V2 and have considerable experience with but I only have 106 miles on my OW. I absolutely love my OW, the freedom you get from it is like nothing else and I have to admit going fast on it was part of the thrill for me.

I mostly had been riding in through parking lots and gravel trails and earlier in the day of the accident i had logged about 8 miles of some super sweet carving and speed runs. My top speed of that day was 22.1 mph and up until that day I had not even come close to falling or nosediving. I honestly didn’t even know about the nosedive issue.

Me: #2. What do you remember about the events leading up to the fall?

Chris: Unfortunately I don’t remember much about the fall. I was out in front of my home just practicing some 180 drills waiting for my wife to come home. I live in a cul-de-sac with only a few homes so there is very little traffic on my road.

Getting a little bored with my practice drills, I decided to try and break my high speed and started making runs up and down my road. It was sunny and hot and the road is paved but not that smooth. I live on the east coast and it has its share of bumps and thermal expansion cracks.

That’s the last I remember. The next thing I remember is my wife helping me into her car and she is taking me to the hospital.

Me: #3. What happened after the fall?

Chris: What I can put together after the fall is that I must have been knocked unconscious and then at some point got up and walked back up the road to my house. Went in and tried to clean myself up, took my blood covered shirt off and went to the kitchen sink then the 1st floor bathroom. Unknown what I was doing but the blood on everything was a tell tale sign of where I had gone.

After a failed attempt at cleaning up I then walked out of my house presumably to get my OW which I had left down the road. That is when my wife drove up the road and saw me doing the zombie walk. Her words, not mine. I was covered in blood and dazed. She asked me what happened, I told her I didn’t know and I proceeded to pick up my OW and drag it back up the road to my house.

At this point she gets me in the car and takes me to the hospital and that’s when I start remembering things. The accident happened on Saturday so it’s been 9 days.

I went to our local hospital ER where they did a CT scan and found that I had a major concussion but also a small brain bleed that they were concerned with so they transferred me to a larger hospital with a trauma unit that specializes in head injuries, I was later admitted to their ICU as a precautionary measure.

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I was released the following day after another CT scan showed improvement in the area of the bleed. Had my stitches removed 3 days later and am feeling pretty good. I feel like I’ve got a head cold and have taken some cold medicine for it. So a little drowsy and not quite all there yet but every day gets better.

Me: Thank you so much for sharing your story. Because so many people see my family and me riding our OWs I’m sure they are going to become more common in our area. I want to make sure people ride safely and that is the purpose of my website. You probably had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, I presume. Very lucky it wasn’t worse.

Chris: Yes that’s exactly what was diagnosed. And thank you.

Me: #4. What are the biggest lessons learned?

Chris: The most important lesson is wear a helmet. The OW is such an amazing piece of equipment. It’s so fluid and controllable and you can become very comfortable fairly quickly that the speed can sneak up on you. The majority of my injuries could have easily been avoided had I been wearing one of the two helmets I own.

Also, Respect the Pushback and Know your limits.


The Lessons Learned

There are many lessons to be learned from Chris’ experience. Chris was not some inexperienced hotshot looking to show off. He had considerable experience with an electric skateboard and had over 100 miles of experience with his Onewheel.

It is interesting to note that Chris owns 2 helmets but was not wearing them the day that he was practicing on his street. How many times have I thought to myself, “I am just going for a quick cruise so I won’t need my safety gear” only to find myself a few hours and many miles later thinking, “Geez I should have put on my safety gear!”

It is this very reason that in my home no one is allowed on the Onewheel unless they have safety gear on. I don’t care if they are just going to ride it for 10 yards or for 10 miles, they need to wear their safety gear!

I am not surprised that Chris was trying to break speed records. It is just human nature to test the limits and speed is an easy limit to test.

The app even rewards you when you break a speed record with a little sound effect and your top speed gets posted and recorded on your app.

Rewarding speed with sound effects and posting top speed numbers is a huge mistake by Future Motion that results in nosedives and needless injury. I hope instead of rewarding speed, in future updates the app can warn you to slow down when you push the board close to its limits.

I was initially surprised that Chris did not know about the nosediving issue. But looking back to when I first started riding my Onewheel, I did not really know about it either. When I got my first board, I took the Onewheel out of the box, powered it on, and took it for a spin so I could see for myself what all the excitement I had seen on Youtube was all about.

It wasn’t until after my first bad fall that I started looking into Onewheel safety by joining Facebook groups and reading discussion boards. At that moment I knew I wanted to put together a source for my family and friends so that they could understand the Onewheel and how to ride it safely.

When you go fast on a Onewheel, the question is not “IF” you fall, the question is “WHEN” you fall. For Chris, he was not unlucky when he fell. The fall was inevitable because he was going too fast.

RAD TIP: There are two types of Onewheel riders: Those who HAVE FALLEN, and those who WILL FALL. Ride safely and wear your safety gear!

Looking at Chris’ story, I actually feel he was quite lucky in some respects. At the speeds he was going without any safety gear he could have suffered much more severe injury than what he actually did.

While the brain bleed that he suffered, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, is no laughing matter it could have been much worse. A subarachnoid hemorrhage is a type of bleeding around the brain that can be caused from severe trauma. The fact that Chris did not need surgery is very lucky indeed.

The Onewheel was love at first sight for me. If you have followed my Onewheel progress on Youtube, you will know that early on I had a good spill but fortunately I was wearing my safety gear and I was able to roll out of the fall. This prevented any major injury.

I have enjoyed riding my Onewheel so much that I had to get another so that I could share the joy with my family. One of my biggest concern is Onewheel safety and that is what inspired this website and that is why so many of my articles and videos are geared towards being safe on the Onewheel.

When my kids are riding with me or especially when they are riding without me, I fear that they will nosedive or crash. That is why I try to instill into their brains the importance of wearing safety gear and following the 5 rules to prevent nosedives on the Onewheel.

No first time rider can ride my Onewheels without watching this safety video. The video is just a few minutes and it helps first time riders understand the dangers of nosediving and how to prevent it.

I believe that many injuries can be avoided if people wore the correct safety gear and followed just a few simple rules. I hope others will learn from Chris’ traumatic accident.

Wear safety gear. Respect pushback from your Onewheel, and know the limits of both you and your board.

To learn more about safety gear check out this article.

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We are Andrew and Jimmy, two guys who love personal electric vehicles, and we hope to share our experiences and reviews to help you find the best next PEV for your needs.

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