Head and neck injuries due to cellphone use increasing in U.S.: study


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Oct 26, 2009
Head and neck injuries due to cellphone use increasing in U.S.: study
Postmedia News
December 5, 2019
December 5, 2019 3:24 PM EST
Portrait of young inattentive girl, distracted by mobile phone. Girl crashed into street post, dropped phoneValeriy G. / iStock / Getty Images
Doing two things at once can be hazardous to your health.
Particularly when it comes to walking while using your smartphone.
According to a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the rates of cellphone-related head and neck injuries in the United States have been rising steadily over a 20-year period.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Boris Paskhover, noticed some of his patients suffered broken jaws or facial wounds after a fall while texting on their phones.
“I don’t think people are aware of how fragile we are as humans,” Paskhover told NBC News. “We’re resilient, but we’re also fragile. You fall and you can get a pretty bad injury.”
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Paskhover, an assistant professor in the department of otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, decided to look into the statistics behind these injuries while distracted by cellphones.
The study looked for head and neck injuries related to cellphone use in a database of about 100 U.S. hospitals from January 1998 to December 2017. Researchers found 2,501 patients who sought medical treatment for these injuries.
The study revealed these injuries were relatively rare but saw a sharp increase in 2007 when the first iPhone was released. Rates continued to climb rapidly until it hit a peak in 2016 as smartphones started to proliferate.
And young people, who are tech-savvy, were most likely to be injured.
“Many of these injuries occurred among those aged 13 to 29 years and were associated with common activities, such as texting while walking,” the study said.
The most common injuries were lacerations (26%), followed by bruises and abrasions (25%). However, internal organ injuries made up almost a fifth of the cases, or 18%.
What advice does Paskhover have to limit these injuries?
“Be self-aware. Answer a text message, fine, but you shouldn’t be walking around reading articles on your phone.”