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Researchers link distraction to rise in cellphone-related head and neck injuries

January 29, 2020

Newark, NJ — Head and neck injuries related to cellphone use increased “steeply” over a recent 20-year period – with distraction a significant factor, say researchers from Rutgers University.

Reviewing national data from 1998 to 2017, the researchers identified more than 2,500 emergency room patients who had suffered head and neck injuries while using a cellphone. Overall, about half of the injuries resulted from distracted driving, while distracted walking contributed to around 33%, a Dec. 5 press release from Rutgers states. Lacerations accounted for 26.3% of the injuries, followed by bruises/abrasions (24.5%) and internal organ injuries (18.4%).

“Injuries from cellphone use have mainly been reported from incidences during driving, but other types of injuries have gone largely underreported,” study author Boris Paskhover, surgeon and assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said in the release. “The findings suggest a need for education about the risks of cellphone use and distracted behavior during other activities, as well as driving and walking.”

The study was published online Dec. 5 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.