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Are Treadmills Dangerous?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

We normally think of exercise equipment as inherently healthy, but a CEO's recent death has many wondering about the health risks of using treadmills.

Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, died last week after falling and striking his head while using a treadmill. Goldberg's death was a shock to Silicon Valley and a wake-up call to the 50 million Americans who use them that treadmills may be dangerous.

Running a Risk

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), treadmill-related injuries led to 24,000 emergency room visits last year alone. The CPSC also reports there have been "30 reported deaths associated with treadmills for the ten year period from 2003-2012 or an average of about 3 per year (2012 is the last year for which fatality reporting is nearly complete)."

Goldberg fall caused a traumatic brain injury and hypovolemic shock, which can cause severe blood loss. While it is not clear what led to Goldberg's fall, most treadmill injuries occur because users lose their balance on the rotating belt, often resulting in severe bruises or broken bones.

Also unclear was how many of the thousands of injuries per year were due to a treadmill defect, whether in design or manufacturing, or if the treadmills involved carried adequate warnings about possible dangers. CPSC statistics show that no other piece of exercise equipment caused more injuries than treadmills.

Keep Kids Away

Children are especially susceptible to treadmill injuries, especially friction burns. An Australian study found that "pediatric treadmill friction injuries are severe and increasing in incidence," and led to a national safety campaign. And in 2009, Mike Tyson's daughter Exodus died after becoming entangled in a treadmill cord. Experts warn owners to keep children away from treadmills, even if they're not turned on.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a treadmill accident, you may want to consult with an experienced injury attorney about your case.

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