Cell phones increase the risk of head and neck injuries

Cell phones increase the risk of head and neck injuries

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Do not use cell phones while driving or walking

Injuries to the head and neck area continue to increase, which, according to a recent study, can be attributed to the use of smartphones when walking or driving. So far, the dangers that arise when people make phone calls while driving or deal with social media or text messages while walking are apparently underestimated.

The latest research by Rutgers New Jersey Medical School found that injuries and discomfort caused by cell phone use are increasing. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery".

Use of cell phones distracts from the environment

There are an increasing number of injuries caused by the use of mobile phones, which also correlate with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and the release of the game Pokémon Go in 2016. Many of the injuries occur when people use their cell phones while walking or driving and do not pay attention to their surroundings.

Data from more than 2,500 people were evaluated

The study examined 2,501 patients who went to an emergency room between 1998 and 2017 for head and neck injuries. The injuries examined were all due to the use of mobile phones.

Games on the cell phone can be dangerous

The researchers found a steady increase in injuries during this period, with clear peaks. For example, the number of injuries increased suddenly when the game Augmented Reality-based Pokémon Go was launched. In this game, animated creatures have to be caught on the phone in real places. Players pay attention to their cell phones and forget the dangers of the reality around them.

Which injuries were particularly common?

The usual injuries included cuts, bruises, abrasions and internal injuries, particularly to the eyes and nose. More than 41 percent of the injuries occurred at home. These injuries were mostly relatively harmless, so little or no treatment was needed. Around 50 percent of all injuries resulted from being distracted by the cell phone while driving and a third from being distracted while walking.

Children under the age of 13 often suffered mechanical injuries

Children under the age of 13 were significantly more likely to suffer a so-called mechanical injury. This category of injuries includes, for example, exploding cell phone batteries or injuries from dropped cell phones. There were also injuries to the face that children carelessly inflicted on themselves.

Cell phone dangers were underestimated

So far, researchers have assumed that injuries caused by the use of mobile phones are mainly due to unforeseen incidents while driving. However, it has so far been underestimated how many other types of injury from cell phone use have occurred.

Risk group: people between 13 and 29 years

The researchers assume that distraction from mobile phones is the main reason for the injuries to the head and neck. Such injuries are particularly common among people between the ages of 13 and 29. The results of the study indicate an increased need for information about the risks of mobile phone use. Distracted behavior during other activities such as driving and walking in particular poses an increased risk. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Roman Povolotskiy, Nakul Gupta, Adam B. Leverant, Aron Kandinov, Boris Paskhover: Head and Neck Injuries Associated With Cell Phone Use, in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery (query: 06.12.2019), JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery

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