Almost 4,000 Americans per year injured while using cellphones, study finds

Yolanda Curtis
December 7, 2019

These injuries were evenly split between direct injuries, like someone dropping a phone on themselves or being struck with one, and use-associated injuries, which include injuries that result from being distracted by a phone.

When people are walking, they're looking at their phone and not their surroundings.

Of the 2,501 incidents occurring between January 1998 and December 2017, 37.6 percent involved patients aged between 13 to 29-years-old, with pre-teens most at risk.

The injuries included cuts, abrasions, bruises and internal injuries. Since 2007 - "the year the iPhone was first introduced", Paskhover, said - the number of people reporting cellphone-related injuries in the US has more than tripled, even though many of them are likely reluctant to admit why they got hurt.

The most commonly reported injuries affected the head, face, eyes, nose, and neck.


Despina Stavrinos, associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who did not work on the study told Newsweek she wasn't surprised by the findings "given how pervasive cell phones are in our everyday lives". They used a weight variable provided by the NEISS database to estimate the number of nationwide cases, which yielded the weighted national total of 76,043 cases of cellphone-related injuries over the 20-year period.

According to the paper, the number of head injuries caused by cellphones spiked around 2007 (when the iPhone was released) and has only gone up from there.

The study, published Thursday in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, is believed to be the first to investigate the role smartphones play in injuries to these parts of the body.

Researchers also counted 90 people who were injured while playing "Pokémon Go". "Distracted walking, bicycling, and driving are common and extremely risky activities among youth that increases their risk of injury", said Stavrinos, who co-authored a paper on that topic.

Internal organ injuries made up nearly a fifth of the cases, or 18 percent. "Specifically, high-risk age groups should be targeted for education to prevent unnecessary injury", Paskhover's group emphasized.


"If someone is walking down the street and they drip and fall, they're not going to say that they were being a schmuck and looking at their phone".

Still, most patients in the study were treated and released from the hospital, or released without any treatment required.

"The phone went from being a phone to being a mobile platform", Paskhover said.

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