MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota man crashed an electric scooter last month in Denver, and could now face years of recovery.
Each day is a new day for Henry Bromelkamp.
“He’s been making steady progress,” said Jeff Nelson, Bromelkamp’s husband.
The business owner and nonprofit founder rented an e-scooter while in Denver a month and a half ago. Nelson answered the call from paramedics.
“Some people nearby heard a crash and looked over, and there he was, sprawled out on the street, and they called 911,” Nelson said.
The once-active cyclist, skier and marathon runner had to have part of his skull removed, and was unconscious for about two weeks.
“It was a very difficult time,” Nelson said. “I wasn’t sure if Henry was going to live or not at that point.”
Slowly, doctors saw signs of cognition. He was transferred to Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, where Bromelkamp has speech, occupational and physical therapy.
“The primary injury to his head was on his left side, which controls your right motor skills, and at this point in time he has no movement with his right arm or right leg,” Nelson said. “We’re hoping that comes back, but it’s an unknown at this point.”
Nelson says Bromelkamp was adamant about safety and wearing a helmet while biking — but he was without one the day of the accident.
Dr. Brian Amdahl is the executive medical director at Bethesda Hospital, where they treat traumatic brain injuries.
“I think it’s maybe been a bit of a blind spot where people didn’t realize that they posed a significant risk to safety and well-being,” Amdahl said.
He advocates for helmets, and says they can lessen the impact in a crash.
“There’s usually an initial impact then a secondary impact, where the head can fall back and hit the pavement. He wouldn’t have been protected from that, and it’s often that second impact that causes sort of a rebound injury,” Amdahl said.
E-scooters were most popular in Minnesota last year around downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota. Most riders were in their 20s to mid-40s, heading to work, home, or out on the town.
Both Minneapolis and St. Paul will allow up to 2,000 motorized scooters this year. Last year’s companies encouraged riders to wear helmets, but they didn’t provide them. The fine print essentially said, “ride at your own risk.”
“We’re hoping that through the best of his abilities, he’ll be able to recover and resume as many of his activities as possible,” Nelson said.
He hopes his husband’s accident increases awareness, and he wants e-scooter companies to do better.
“They are a good form of transportation,” Nelson said. “It just seems it would be a minor cost to also have a helmet available for people to use,” Nelson said.
Bromelkamp moved to the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute last week for more intensive treatment. There’s a GoFundMe set up to help with his recovery.
WCCO-TV checked out the e-scooter companies approved so far for the Twin Cities. Lime says a helmet is required to ride, and the company has given out free helmets. JUMP and Spin offer a discount if you buy one.