Cellphone-related neck and head injuries ‘on the rise’

Head and neck injuries incurred while driving or walking are on the rise, researchers report.Researchers from Rutgers University have reviewed over 2,500 emergency department patients who sustained head and neck injuries resulting from cellphone use between 1998 and 2017. Accordingly, they found a steady increase in injuries over that time, along with notable spikes following the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and the release of Pokemon Go, an augmented reality-based game that requires players to track animated characters on their phones in real locations, in 2016.

“Injuries from cell phone use have mainly been reported from incidences during driving, but other types of injuries have gone largely underreported,” said study author Boris Paskhover, a surgeon and assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “We hypothesise that distractions caused by cell phones were the biggest reason for injury and mainly affected people aged 13 to 29. The findings suggest a need for education about the risks of cell phone use and distracted behaviour during other activities as well as driving and walking.”The main injuries were cuts, bruises, abrasions and internal injuries, especially around the eye and nose. Many occurred at home, requiring little or no treatment. About 50 per cent resulted from distracted driving and one-third from distracted walking.

“Children under 13 years were significantly more likely to suffer a mechanical injury, such as a cell phone battery exploding or parents accidentally dropping a cell phone on a child or a child hitting themselves in the face with the phone,” the researchers added.

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