The incidence of head and neck injuries as a result of smartphone use is on the rise in the United States. Surprisingly, most of the accidents that resulted in head and neck injuries didn’t occur outdoors. And most of these accidents occurred after Apple Inc. introduced its first iPhone -- also the first smartphone as we know it today -- in 2007.

These interesting tidbits of information reported by Harvard Health Publishing are to be found in a new study that reviewed injuries to the head and neck related to cell phone/smartphone use. Cell phones are commonly held to be those small Nokia-type phones popular before 2007. Smartphones are the iPhones, Samsungs and others with touch screens, two or more cameras and a wide array of apps.

The study estimates 76,000 people suffered head and neck injuries related to cell phone/smartphone use in the U.S. over the last two decades. While apparently huge, proportionally it’s less than two injuries per 100,000 cell phone/smartphone users each year.

The study depended on data from over 100 hospitals in the United States in its review of injuries to the head and neck related to cell phone/smartphone use affecting more than 2,500 people over the last 20 years.

The study revealed some 40 percent of head and neck injuries occurred at home. These injuries were classified into "direct mechanical injuries" and "use-related injuries." An example of a direct mechanical injury is being struck by a cell phone or an injury related to an exploding battery. This type of injury accounted for 47 percent of total cases. Use-related injuries (such as distraction while texting) were responsible for 53 percent.

Direct injuries were much more common among users younger than 13 years old. Use-related injuries were more common among older persons. Other interesting info include:

  • 10 percent of injuries occurred while a person was driving and using a cell phone.
  • 7 percent occurred while walking.
  • 1 percent took place while the user was texting.
  • 94 percent of those who were njured required no treatment or were treated at an emergency room and released.
  • Cuts and bruises accounted for over half of these cases.
  • 18 percentof the injuries were more serious, and included traumatic brain injury.

The study said the rate of both these types of injuries increased dramatically since 2007, with the launch of the first Apple iPhone.

"Perhaps cell phones should have warning labels about how to use them responsibly," Dr. Robert Shmerling, Faculty Editor at Harvard Health Publishing, said. "Of course, this would likely just sound like common sense: put the phone away while driving, walking, running, or doing anything that requires your attention to avoid injury."

In a new study, researchers linked smartphone attachment to poor impulse control. Pixabay, public domain