Babies and children

Home treadmill burn risk for children

Home treadmills burn risk for children Emerging health hazard

Children are accidentally getting burned on home treadmills, with health professionals warning parents to be alert to the risks of these running machines.

Plastic surgeons in Wales have seen a growing number of deep burns in children — especially on their hands — where children’s hands and fingers have received friction burns from the motorised running belt.

Surgeons at the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery at Morriston Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital are among those researching the issue.

They looked at 29 running machine injuries on children aged between one and 13 during 2003 and 2009. More than half of burns needed skin grafts and more than two-thirds were classified as deep burns. There have been a further 20 cases involving children at the Welsh Centre between 2006 and 2010.

One of the surgeons, Sarah Hemington-Gorse, said: “This is a growing problem because of the popularity of home gyms. I don't think people fully appreciate how severe the injuries can be as the burns are only small. The problem is that the majority of the burns are deep and are on the fingers or hands.

“Children can hurt themselves because they play on the treadmills and fall, and then grab the belt to try and save themselves. The belts are motorised so they keep on turning, and can cause deep burns. Or they touch the belt when an adult is using the treadmill and their hand gets trapped,” she warned.

She said burns to the palm or fingers can take a long time to heal and often involve grafts and operations. As home treadmills rarely have guards to the working parts they are a particular health hazard to young children.

The research team urged parents, treadmill manufacturers and regulatory authorities to take steps to prevent this emerging health problem.

This article was published on Tue 21 February 2012

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