Mobile phone use linked to increased head and neck injuries, finds JAMA study
Cell phone-related injuries to the head and neck have steeply increased over the two decades.
USA: With the increasing use of cell phones, injuries resulting from their use have also become common resulting largely from driving-related incidents. A recent study published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery journal has focused on head and neck injuries associated with cell phone use.
According to the study, cell phone-related injuries to the head and neck have increased steeply over the recent 20-year period, with many cases resulting from distraction. The injuries were common in people aged 13 to 20 years and were associated with common activities, such as texting while walking.
"These findings suggest a need for patient education about injury prevention and the dangers of activity while using these devices," wrote the authors.
Boris Paskhover, Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, and colleagues assessed the incidence, types, and mechanisms of head and neck injuries associated with cell phone use.
The retrospective cross-sectional study used data from a national database of individuals with head and neck injuries related to cell phone use who presented to emergency departments in the United States between January 1998 and December 2017. The researchers reported a total of 2501 patients such patients (1129 [55.0%] female, 795 [38.8%] white, and 772 [37.6%] aged 13-29 years). The estimated weighted national total was 76 043 patients (42 846 females [56.3%], 34 894 [45.9%] white, and 29 956 [39.4%] aged 13-29 years).
Key findings of the study include:
- The most commonly reported subsites of injuries in the head and neck region included the head (33.1% of estimated total); face, including eyelid, eye area, and nose (32.7%); and neck (12.5%).
- The most common injury diagnoses included laceration (26.3% of estimated total), contusion/abrasion (24.5%), and internal organ injury (18.4%).
- Age group distributions showed that most injuries associated with cell phone user distraction occurred among individuals aged 13 to 29 years (60.3%; Cramer V = 0.29).
- In addition, those younger than 13 years were significantly more likely to sustain direct mechanical injury from a cell phone (82.1%) than to have a cell phone use–associated injury (17.9%) (Cramer V = 0.305), whereas a cell phone use–associated injury was more likely than a direct mechanical injury to occur among those aged 50 to 64 years (68.2% vs 31.8%; Cramer V = 0.11) and those older than 65 years (90.3% vs 9.7%; Cramer V = 0.29).
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"Cell phone-related injuries to the head and neck have increased over a recent 20-year period, with many cases resulting from distraction. Although most of these injuries are not severe, some bear a risk of long-term complications. A large number of these injuries occur among those aged 13 to 29 years and are related to common activities such as texting and walking," wrote the authors.
"These findings suggest an opportunity for injury prevention through patient education about the dangers of using a cell phone while performing other activities," they concluded.
The study, "Head and Neck Injuries Associated With Cell Phone Use," is published in the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery journal.