Pediatrician at Eskenazi Health
A new study over a 20-year period reports that distracted cellphone use while walking, texting and driving has resulted in a steep rise in people falling and injuring their heads and necks.
The study, published recently in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, is believed to be the first to investigate the role distracted cellphone usage plays in injuries to those parts of the body. The analysis states that while most injuries were mild, some including facial lacerations and traumatic brain and internal organ injuries, may lead to long-term and severe consequences.
Cellphone-related injuries to the head and neck that appear in the study were listed in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database that collects information on emergency room visits from about 100 U.S. hospitals. The study found 2,501 patients suffering from cellphone-related injuries to the head and neck from January 1998 to December 2017. When translated to a national scale, those cases would add up to more than 76,000 people in all hospitals. The study found that most people were treated and released instead of being hospitalized.
Head and neck injuries related to cellphone use were relatively rare until the rate began to increase sharply in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released, which was followed by a much steeper increase that peaked in 2016. Cellphone users aged 13 to 29 made up nearly 40 percent of the patients, and most of the injuries caused by distraction happened in this age group.
Unfortunately, cellphone distraction-related deaths while driving are also increasing. A total of 2,841 people died in distraction-affected automobile crashes in 2018, according to The National Safety Council. In addition, the Governors Highway Safety Association estimated more than 6,000 pedestrian fatalities related to cellphone distraction in 2018, which is a 20-year high.
The results of this study clearly state that we all must commit to looking at our cellphones at proper times and not while we’re walking or driving. Carelessness in this regard can lead to serious injuries and put lives at risk.
If you are in need of a pediatrician for your child or a primary care physician for yourself or someone else, please call 317-880-7666 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors.