What are the Risks of a Brain Injury from Walking Your Dog?

What are the Risks of a Brain Injury from Walking Your Dog?


During a lengthy study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, it was discovered that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) were the second most common injury among adults. The most prevalent injuries were mundane finger fractures and shoulder sprains or strains.

According to statisticians, falls are the number one culprit behind injuries in humans, but the outcomes are seldom the same for older folks. Dog-walking injuries are also on the rise.

The JHU study pointed to seniors aged 65 and older as being more likely to sustain serious trauma than other age groups, which doesn't come as a total surprise. In fact, those 65 and older are three times more likely to fall and more than twice as likely to experience a fracture.

Furthermore, they found that women with dog-walking-related injuries were 50 percent more likely to sustain a fracture than their male counterparts. The most common injuries occurred in connection to patients falling after being pulled, tripped up, or tangled in leashes.

It happens so frequently that it's the main reason retractable leashes are now frowned upon and why they are often banned from dog parks. If you've ever seen the resultant scars from someone caught up in one, you'd likely never use them again. Google it if you're unsure, but be prepared to gasp.

There's also a new leash on the market designed to be worn around the waist, which could be an accident waiting to happen.

Getting back to the JHU study, which took place over the course of 20 years, the scientists noted that injuries increased significantly during that timeframe, and they believe the numbers may have risen due to the increase in dog ownership.

Ultimately, the team is hopeful their findings will promote awareness among dog owners and, better yet, encourage physicians to talk about the potential injuries linked to dog walking, which is often seen as a great way to exercise, ironically enough.

Senior author Edward McFarland stated, "Clinicians should be aware of these risks and convey them to patients, especially women and older adults.

"We encourage clinicians to screen for pet ownership, assess fracture and fall risk, and discuss safe dog walking practices at regular health maintenance visits for these vulnerable groups.

"Despite our findings, we also strongly encourage people to leash their dogs wherever it is legally required."

To learn more about the study results, visit Johns Hopkins here.

Rebecca West

Rebecca is a writer and editor for both print and digital with a love for travel, history, archaeology, trivia, and architecture. Much of her writing has focused on human and animal health and welfare. A life-long pet owner, she has taken part in fostering dogs for military members during deployment and given many rescued and surrendered dogs the forever home they always wanted. Her two favorite canine quotes are, "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are," and "My dog rescued me."

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