Computer Injuries: Have a Nice Trip (Not!)

By Martin Brown

hand in soft wrist cast typing on a keyboardIt’s more than breaking a nail on a keyboard. These days, it’s not uncommon for women to trip over computer cords, drop a monitor on a Kate Spade heel. Let’s not forget the chance you might get carpal tunnel.

Each year more and more Americans are showing up at emergency rooms with computer-related injuries.

In fact, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Injuries increased sevenfold between 1994 and 2006–outpacing the number of new computers in the home:  while injuries jumped 732 percent, household computer ownership increased by just 309 percent.

Says Dr. Charlene Irvin, of the American College of Emergency Physicians,”The numbers look overwhelming but think about how in 2006 we had 115 million emergency room visits in the U.S., then visits from computers was 0.008 percent.”

The study was limited to only 100 hospitals. That said,  counting computers injuries from all hospitals would likely bump up that percentage.

But Irvin doubts computer woes would ever make the top 10 list. “That doesn’t mean to trivialize these injuries, because if you have a child and that monitor falls on your child that one visit is important,” said Irvin.

Women have one advantage: apparently they are less clumsy than men. The study showed that males were more 7 percent more likely to injure themselves on the computer than females.

And on the brighter side, head injuries increased until 2003, and then went on a decline. The authors guessed that the move to thinner LCD screens from the heavy, boxy cathode ray tube monitors has had a safety benefit.

But with kids using the computers more often, their injuries are growing.

“Young children under 5 had the highest overall injury rate, and they had the greatest injury rate increase over any group,” said McKenzie. “There are a lot of young children, really young children, using computers these days.”

Doctors’ safety advice for computer use: keep heavy objects like computers away from edges and on secured, stable furniture, keep cords secured and out of reach, and keep an eye on the child.

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