Facial cuts, bruises, fractures—Dr. Boris Paskhover has seen it all. But the New Jersey plastic surgeon says more and more injuries aren’t from boxing, playing hockey, or snow skiing. Instead, they’re from cell phones. A study published last week finds careless use of these handheld devices is causing a spike in U.S. emergency department visits.
The cell phone study was published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology (the study of head and neck injuries). Paskhover and others analyzed 20 years of emergency room data. They found an increase in cell phone injuries after 2006. That’s right around the time when the first smartphones came out.
Sometimes the phones themselves cause injuries. For example, people have been hit by a thrown phone. (Ouch.) Then there’s the woman who broke her nose by dropping her phone on her face. (Double ouch.)
But Paskhover says many injuries happen because of distracted use. About 40% of those injured by their cell phones were ages 13 to 29. Many get hurt while walking, texting, or driving. A fairly common injury happens when folks text while walking—then trip and land face-down on the sidewalk.
Cell phones also have been linked to overuse injuries in the hands and neck.
Most patients in Paskhover’s study didn’t need hospitalization. Still, researchers say the phone-injury problem should be taken seriously.
“I love my smartphone,” Paskhover says. But he admits that it’s easy to get too absorbed.
According to Paskhover, avoiding injury requires common sense. “People wouldn’t walk around reading a magazine,” he points out. “Be careful.”
(A woman browses her smartphone in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)