Treadmill-related friction burns often more severe than stovetop burns among kids, study finds

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Columbus, OH – Friction burns that occur when a child’s hand becomes stuck in a treadmill are the second leading cause of hand injury among children, and are often more severe than other contact burns, according to a study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

For the study, researchers reviewed charts at the hospital’s pediatric burn center. They found that, from 2010 to 2014, 384 patients were treated for treadmill-related burns (typically incurred when the child’s hand contacted the running belt) and other contact hand burns such as those from stovetops, the leading cause of child hand injury. They then compared age, burn severity and adverse outcomes in both types of injuries.

Results showed that treadmill-related burns were more severe in terms of depth, need for an operation, number of appointments to address the injury, time for skin closure and length of care – 51 days for treadmill burns compared with 11 days for other contact burns.

“We can ensure a safer environment for children by helping caregivers recognize that a treadmill is a piece of heavy machinery, by having them read and understand safety mechanisms in place for their treadmill, and by having them prevent access to the machine during treadmill use,” Dr. Huiyun Xiang, director of the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research, who also contributed to the study, said in the release. “We also recommend the use of baby gates or play pens, to not leave a running treadmill unattended, and to have caregivers position the treadmill to face the room.”

According to the researchers, more than 12,000 children in the United States receive treatment in emergency rooms annually for injuries related to home exercise equipment.

The study was published online Sept. 20 in the Journal of Burn Care & Research.

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