Study: Your Phone Is Increasing Your Risk of Injury

December 9, 2019

You undoubtedly use your phone all the time for business. You know the dangers of not texting and driving—but a new study recommends that you not text and walk either.

As phone usage rises, more people are putting themselves at risk of injuries to the face, eyes, nose, ears, and head, which have risen “steeply” over the last two decades, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. “Nobody in their right mind would ever read a book while they are walking,”  says Boris Paskhover, co-author of the study and chief of facial plastics and reconstructive surgery at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “Why would they read an entire article on the phone while they are walking? Everyone does it; I do it.”

Researchers found that among 100 U.S. hospitals, more than 2,500 patients had head and back injuries related to their phones between 1998 and 2017. Researchers say that extrapolates to about 76,000 cases across the whole of the U.S. Paskhover says that number is likely to be low, since it’s based on emergency room visits. Some people may be too embarrassed by their phone-related injury to visit the doctor.

The most common phone-related injuries are to the head and neck area. The causes vary, from a cell phone battery exploding to a smartphone hitting the person’s face for an unknown reason. Distractions, such as by texting and walking, also contributed to a wide range of injuries. People between the ages of 13 and 29 had the most injuries. Those are mostly due to distracted driving, walking, and texting, the research showed.

“With an increasing number of devices and applications competing for users’ attention, it is more important than ever to ensure the safe use of smartphones,” the researchers note in the study. “Specifically, high-risk age groups should be targeted for education to prevent unnecessary injury.”

Head and Neck Injuries Associated With Cell Phone Use,” JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery (Dec. 5, 2019) and “Phone-related Injuries Are Increasing Rapidly,” (Dec. 6, 2019)