Introduction: The use of home exercise equipment is increasing and treadmills are becoming more popular. This has brought with it an emerging but preventable problem. We present our experience, highlight the importance and promote public awareness of this type of injury. To our knowledge this has not been reported previously in the UK.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of the medical records at two regional burn units of children who sustained treadmill-related injuries between July 2003 and July 2009. Data on patient demographics, mechanism of injury, management, surgical intervention and outcome were recorded.
Results: Twenty-nine children (15 boys, 14 girls) sustained treadmill-related injuries. The mean age was 3.8 years (range: 1-13 years). All injuries occurred at home and the majority of children trapped their hand under the running belt when an adult was using the machine. Most of the injuries were to the upper limb (97%) with less than 1% of the total body surface area burnt. More than two-thirds of patients had deep burns and 17 (58%) required surgical intervention. Five patients developed hypertrophic scars. All patients achieved a good functional outcome.
Conclusions: Treadmills can pose a significant danger to children. These injuries are preventable. Regulatory authorities, manufacturers and parents should take steps to prevent this emerging health problem.