Cell phones are an integral part of daily life but are distractors that can contribute to injury. The present study uses a large national emergency department (ED) database to evaluate the frequency, anatomic location, and type of injuries associated with cell phone use. We hypothesize that orthopaedic injuries related to cell phone use have increased over time and affect certain body parts and age groups more than others.
The 1999 to 2018 Nation Electronic Injury Surveillance System was queried for cell phone-related injuries leading to ED visits (injuries to the head or face or involving a landline were excluded). Demographics, type of orthopaedic injury, and body part injured were tabulated, and injuries were then classified over time as direct mechanical or cell phone use-associated, as well as related to texting compared with talking.
A weighted national total of 44,599 injuries met inclusion criteria. A marked increase was noted in the incidence of cell phone use-associated injuries over the time (2,900%). Injuries occurred in persons with mean ± standard deviation age of 36.6 ± 19.9 years old, predominantly in women (60.6%), at home (32.8%) or on the street (22.4%), and while walking (31.6%) or driving (18.16%). The distribution of orthopaedic injuries was defined and occurred most frequently in the neck, lower torso/hip, and ankle. The most common types of injuries were sprain/strain (56.8%) and fracture (32.6%). The proportion of fracture injury types was significantly greater in adults aged greater than 65 (P < 0.001). The proportion of injuries related to texting on a cell phone was greatest in the 13- to 29-year-old age group and declined as age increased.
Orthopaedic injures related to cell phone use resulting in ED visits have markedly increased over time. The distribution and characteristics of such injuries can be used in targeted public health education and policy development.