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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 26 April, 2019

Four people broke their wrist in a week in Galway last year... taking selfies

The four people in question all broke the opposite arm to that which was holding the phone.

shutterstock_353996453 Source: Shutterstock/Dean Drobot

FOUR PEOPLE BROKE their arms in a week last summer in the west of Ireland as a direct result of taking selfies using their phones.

A study published in the Irish Medical Journal suggests that, given the prevalence of the unique injury, it may be time for Irish hospitals to list it on admission forms as unique patient issue.

The four people were all taking photos of themselves using their phones. All four injuries were inflicted to the opposite arm to that holding the phone, suggesting the fractures were inflicted as a direct result of the person trying to save their phone.

Interestingly, no props, such as selfie sticks, were involved.

The four cases involved:

  • A teenage girl on a trampoline who collided with a friend while taking a selfie before falling and fracturing her arm
  • A 17-year-old girl who fell while running up steps on a seaside promenade
  • A 27-year-old  sportswoman who fractured her arm while trying to take a selfie with her teammates on stairs
  • A 40-year-old woman who took two steps backward while taking a selfie at a ‘well-known tourist attraction’, and fell onto rocks

ow Source: UCHG

The researchers from the Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery at University College Hospital Galway (UCHG), at which all four people presented with their injuries, said that all four fractures were the same  - distal radius fractures, or broken wrists.

“As social media platforms promote and popularise selfies, the associated hazards and potential injuries need to be reported and published,” the researchers argue in their paper.

While taking selfies, proprioception and spatial awareness is often poorer, as attention is focused on a mobile device.

“We were surprised by the high number of injuries over a week-long period, also the demographic of the patients was not specific to a certain age group, hence it is important to remind all age groups that when using mobile phones for selfies that care needs to be taken as people seem to focus on the perfect picture more than the surrounding environment and hence are more prone to falls and injuries,” Rebecca Lyons of the Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery told

It is time that hospitals recognise that such injuries are no longer unique, Lyons argues, but must be recognised officially as the result of a specific hazardous activity.

“The Hospital Inpatient Enquiry System (HIPE) is the mechanism of how we code for injuries in hospitals, an injury due to a selfie is not a known diagnosis on this system, so it is inevitable that we are grossly underestimating the amount of trauma and injuries due to taking selfies and hence never think of it as a hazardous activity,” she says.

As the summer months approach and weather improves, it is important that the public remember to take care when trying to get those perfect pictures, so they don’t end up on an in cast or on an operating table.

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