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Fidget Spinners: Don't Get Injured by This Latest Craze

May 18, 2017
Fidget spinners

A couple of weeks ago, during a family visit to an aquarium, a gift shop display caught my eye. Tucked among the racks of plastic fish and shark magnets was a stack of small colorful propeller-like things. My son picked one up, held the center between his thumb and index finger and set it spinning with a quick flick of his wrist.

I was fascinated.

Until that moment, I had been oblivious to the latest childhood fad: fidget spinners. And as an expert fidgeter myself, I quickly wondered where this thing had been my whole life. I marveled at the three blades, each holding a circular case of precision bearings, which not only reminded me of my roller-skating days, but also gave the gadget a satisfying weight and balance.

Of course, my children (and wife) were incredulous that I had not heard of the fidget spinner. Didn’t I know every kid in America wanted one? Or that every teacher in America loathed the spinners disrupting their class?

I had every intention of joining the growing population of fidget spinner owners, but my kids (and wife) vetoed the motion. I went home with a shark magnet instead, but Father’s Day is around the corner… and a guy can always hope.

Since that day, I’ve seen fidget spinners everywhere—at the mall, in restaurants, our neighborhood park, even the emergency room, where a kid showed me how to balance the spinner on the tip of her nose (I was jealous).

I’ve also seen fidget spinners in the news.

There’s talk about who invented the gadget and which patent was filed when. I’ve read explanations of the spinners’ rapid rise to fame and claims they help kids focus. Of course, many schools aren’t convinced and have banned fidget spinners from class. Other schools disagree and embrace the toy. I was thinking news outlets are clamoring to talk about fidget spinners with the same intensity a kid feels about owning one, when I came across a story that gave me pause: Mother Warns About Fidget Spinner Choking.

Apparently, a ten-year-old girl was riding in the back seat of the family car, cleaning her fidget spinner with her tongue, when one of the bearing cases dislodged and fell in her mouth. She began choking. Fortunately, her mother took quick action, pulling the car over, grabbing her daughter and performing the Heimlich maneuver. The girl was rescued from choking, but she ended up swallowing the bearing case, which became lodged in her upper esophagus and required emergency surgery for removal.

Of course, toys with small parts (including nickel-sized parts in this case) should be kept away from young children. But even older kids can have a brush with death if they aren’t careful.

I came across a couple other fidget spinner stories. One caused $2000 in dental damages, and an Australian boy almost lost an eye after throwing his spinner up in the air.

As I see it, there are several morals to these stories:

  1. Fidget spinner makers should ensure their products are safe for kids and not prone to falling apart.
  2. Keep fidget spinners out of your mouth and away from your face. Sadly, this means no more nose spinning.
  3. If you spin a spinner, hold the center tightly on the top and bottom. And no throwing!
  4. Always supervise your kids.
  5. Parents and caregivers should know what to do in the case of an emergency. If you’re not sure, consider taking a Red Cross Training Class.

As for me, I promise to keep the fidget spinner out of my mouth and away from my face if the family happens to give me one on Father’s Day!

Dr Mike is an emergency medicine physician and host of PediaCast at Nationwide Children’s.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Mike Patrick, MD
Emergency Medicine; Host of PediaCast

Dr Mike Patrick is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Medical Director of Interactive Media for Nationwide Children's Hospital. Since 2006, he has hosted the award-winning PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. Dr Mike also produces a national podcast for healthcare providers—PediaCast CME, which explores general pediatric and faculty development topics and offers free AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to listeners.

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