More children being injured in treadmill accidents

1 Nov 2009

Better education of parents and safety modifications are needed to halt a rapid increase in the number of children suffering treadmill-related injuries, according to a letter published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

A/Prof Andrew Holland, Director of the Burns Research Institute  at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, and his co-authors write that 65 children were treated for treadmill-related injuries at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Sydney Children’s Hospital in 2007 and 2008.

“In most cases, the child was injured when a limb or part of a limb was trapped between the rear roller and the treadmill belt,” A/Prof Holland said.

“Friction burns ranged from less than one per cent to seven per cent of total body surface area.

“Fourteen patients required surgery, including 13 who underwent a skin grafting procedure. Most injuries (46) occurred while the treadmill was in use by another person and the child approached from behind.

“In nine cases, a child was injured while using a treadmill. The average age of these children was 7.8 years.”
A/Prof Holland said the NSW Government had introduced legislation that mandates prominent permanent warning labels be affixed to all new treadmills, but there were no national regulations governing treadmill supply or advice given at point of sale.

“It is likely that, without better application of current injury prevention strategies, the prevalence of these injuries will continue to increase,” he said.

“As most injuries occur within the first six months of purchasing a treadmill, educating parents is important around the time of purchase.

“People should be aware that headset use can decrease awareness of children near treadmills, and that the use of mirrors or alternative positioning can help ensure that children approaching treadmills will be seen.”

The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.

The statements or opinions that are expressed in the MJA  reflect the views of the authors and do not represent the official policy of the AMA unless that is so stated.


Associate Professor Andrew Holland 02 9845 1908 / 0400 438 114

Ms Leonie Leonard 02 9845 3583
Public Relations Manager, The Children's Hospital at Westmead

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