26 May 2023

Dog Walker Injuries

Welcome back. Dogs are wonderful pets, as more than half of U.S. households can attest. Walking them is certainly good exercise for both the walker and the dog. Nevertheless, with a dog on one end of a leash and the walker on the other end, injuries occasionally occur. 

Ready for a walk (from www.rspcapetinsurance.org.au/pet-care/training-your-pet/5-ways-to-train-your-dog-to-walk-on-a-leash).

To develop more comprehensive information about these injuries, a team of researchers examined leash-dependent dog-walking injuries to adults (age 18 and older) that were treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2001-2020.

The researchers, affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, used data derived from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).

For more than 45 years, NEISS has collected data for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to produce nationwide estimates of product-related injuries.

NEISS draws from a nationally representative sample of hospitals in the U.S. and its territories. Each hospital reports patient information for every emergency department visit associated with a consumer product or poisoning to a child younger than five.

NEISS has become an important public health source of data for researchers and consumers throughout the U.S. and around the world. Increasing its importance, in 2000, the Consumer Product Safety Commission expanded NEISS to collect data on all injuries for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through an interagency agreement.

Data Analysis and Results
The Johns Hopkins researchers conducted a retrospective analysis to generate weighted estimates and 95% confidence intervals of injury incidence, injury characteristics and risk factors for sustaining a fracture or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Between 2001 and 2020, an estimated 422,659 adults were treated at U.S. emergency departments for injuries related to leash-dependent dog walking. During this period, the annual incidence of injuries increased from 7,282 to 32,306.

Nearly half of all patients were adults age 40 to 64, and 75% of patients were female. Patients commonly injured their upper extremity (51%) while falling, when pulled by, tangled in or tripped by the leash connected to the dog they were walking.

Dog walking problems (from www.wndu.com/content/news/Dog-walking-injuries-on-the-rise-How-to-stay-safe-396715911.html).

Most Common Injuries  
The three most common injuries among all patients were finger fracture (6.9%), TBI (5.6%) and shoulder sprain or strain (5.1%); however, the two most common injuries among patients age 65 and older were TBI and hip fracture.

Older dog walkers were more than three times as likely to experience a fall, more than twice as likely to have a fracture and 60% more likely to sustain a TBI than younger dog walkers.

TBIs consisted of both concussions and non-concussive internal head injuries, which can include brain contusion (a bruise of the brain tissue), epidural hematoma (bleeding between skull and brain’s outer membrane) or subdural hematoma (bleeding beneath the brain’s outer membrane).

Wrap Up
The research team stated its hope that the findings will promote awareness among dog owners as well as clinicians, and that clinicians will discuss the injury potential of leash-dependent dog walking with their patients, especially females and older adults.

Notably, the researchers also analyzed leash-dependent dog walking injuries among children under age 18. They expect those findings to be released in the near future.

Stay safe and thanks for stopping by. Oh, don’t forget, you can always stick with cats.

Study of dog-walking injuries in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/9900/Epidemiology_of_Dog_Walking_Related_Injuries_Among.259.aspx
Article on study on EurekAlert! website: www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/987219
NEISS: www.cpsc.gov/Research--Statistics/NEISS-Injury-Data

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