Cellphone-related face injuries on the rise, study shows

Cuts Bruises and Fractures Spike Seen in Mobile Phone Linked Face Injuries in the US

Most patients in the study weren’t hospitalised but researchers said problem should be taken seriously

The report said, "Cell phone-related injuries to the head and neck have increased steeply over the recent 20-year period, with many cases resulting from distraction". Researchers counted 90 people who were injured because they were distracted while playing "Pokémon Go".

"As an emergency physician, I have personally taken care of patients that have walked into traffic, fallen in holes and other unsafe situations while on a phone", said Dr. Teresa Murray Amato, chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish, in Forest Hills, N.Y.

Being distracted from your environment can be unsafe and lead to accidents.

The researchers make the same point.

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"The findings suggest a need for education about the risks of cellphone use and distracted behaviour during other activities as well as driving and walking", pointed out Boris Paskhover, a surgeon and assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who took part in the study. "Maybe they were looking at their phones while they were driving or walking down the street. You fall and you can get a pretty bad injury". When referring to the head, this diagnosis most commonly indicated traumatic brain injuries - "those are the scary ones", Paskhover said.

Injuries caused by distraction due to cellphones can be quite serious and cause permanent damage, Amato noted.

Paskhover and others analyzed 20 years of emergency room data and found an increase in cell phone injuries as of 2006, when the first smartphones were introduced.

According to the study, most injuries were to the neck, face, eyes, nose, ears, and head. Of the injuries, cuts or lacerations made up 26 percent of cases, contusions or abrasions made up approximately 25 percent of cases, and internal organ injuries made up just over 18 percent of cases. He also said that most of these cases involved people aged 13 to 29 years.

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The study found injuries to children 13 and younger were more likely to be due to direct mechanical injury from the cell phone. Nevertheless Paskhover acknowledged many had been triggered by distracted exercise at the side of texting whereas walking, tripping and touchdown face-down on the sidewalk.

What advice does Paskhover have to limit these injuries?

The study looked for cellphone-related injuries to the head and neck listed in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database that collects information about emergency room visits from about 100 US hospitals.

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