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Acute Computer-Related Injuries Treated in U.S. Emergency Departments, 1994–2006

      Background

      Computer ownership and use have increased significantly in recent years. No previous research has examined whether and to what extent home computers and equipment are associated with acute injuries. This study examines acute computer-related injuries on a national level.

      Methods

      The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database was used to examine cases of acute computer-related injury treated in U.S. emergency departments from January 1, 1994, through December 31, 2006. Analysis was conducted from June 2008 through August 2008.

      Results

      During the study period, an estimated 78,703 (95% CI=61,394–96,011) individuals, aged 1 month–89 years, were treated in U.S. emergency departments for acute computer-related injuries. Children aged <5 years had the highest injury rate of all age groups. The most common cause of injury was tripping or falling by patients aged <5 years (43.4%) and ≥60 years (37.7%) and hitting or getting caught on computer equipment for individuals of all other ages (36.9% of all cases). While injuries to the extremities were most common (57.4%), children aged <10 years most often had injuries to the head (75.8% for those aged <5 years and 61.8% for those aged 5–9 years). When the locale of injury was recorded, 93.2% of injuries occurred at home. The number of acute computer-related injuries increased by 732% over the 13-year study period, which is more than double the increase in household computer ownership (309%).

      Conclusions

      Given the continued increase in computer ownership and the more-than-sevenfold increase in acute computer-related injuries observed over the study period, increased efforts are needed to prevent such injuries, especially among young children.
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