Treadmill Injuries in Children on the Rise

I was saddened to read about the death of Mike Tyson’s daughter. The loss of a young child is a parent’s worst nightmare, and just reading about any loss such as this is heartbreaking.

I paused as I read this post from New York Times health blog, Well, which explained an increase preventable injuries from treadmills among children. In Mike Tyson’s daughter’s case, she became entangled in a cord that hung from the console (this cord was probably a safety cord used to shut down a treadmill if a user falls off). Severe burns are also an increasing problem from treadmills. Even with the parent in the room, a child can come up from behind and touch the treadmill belt. The statistics about how many children are hurt by home gym equipment is eye opening– 25,000 a year. Treadmill and home exercise equipment safety is a subject that isn’t normally talked about, such as pools, window blinds, car seats and lead paint are.

Many comments to the New York Times post are very disheartening, disturbing, and outright “cold” as author Tara Pope put it. It’s the same crowd telling people that they’ve overreacted, that we are trying to make our children live in padded boxes while eating all organic food, sleeping on organic sheets over organic mattresses (you can see where I am going here–). One or two commenters also proclaimed that people should be outside exercising! Why would one need a treadmill?

I’m floored by the lack of empathy and understanding here. I have a treadmill in my basement, and before I had my two children, I was a regular marathoner (and I hope to be again someday). There are days when I take my two children down in the basement, to the play area I’ve set up in front of the treadmill and I workout. That way, I can run and supervise them. I have always kept them away from the machine, but they are in the area and sometimes approach it while I am running. So this awful situation has informed me to be more vigilant. It could be that many parents are in the same boat, not realizing the serious threat of injury or death a treadmill can cause. Am I putting my children in a box? Nope. I am showing them that exercise is important to me, even when it is dark, raining, or my husband is working? You bet. Is this worthy of discussing? Absolutely. If it saves one child from a serious injury or death, the answer is obvious.

Other commenters to the post shared awful stories of injuries from treadmills, truly scary stuff. We can learn from their stories. Unplug your treadmill when it’s not in use, and tie up any loose cords so they are out of reach of young hands. Watch closely if working out on a treadmill while your children are nearby, and make it off limits to children. I know I will be watching more closely.

[This post was written by Katy Farber]

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