Doctors are warning of the “significant danger” of home treadmills after reports of children suffering deep burns and trapping their hands in the running belt.
More than half needed skin grafts following an accident and more than two-thirds of children assessed in two UK burns units had suffered deep burns from a treadmill.
Overall, experts reported 29 children treadmill-related injuries between 2003 and 2009 at the two units, with the number of cases going up each year.
All the injuries occurred at home, and 16 of the youngsters trapped their hand or forearm under the conveyer belt when an adult was using the machine.
Seven children had touched a recently used machine while playing under the supervision of an adult, two were injured while playing alone and in one case a 13-year-old tried to use the machine.
Most injuries were to the arms but one toddler also suffered a burn to the nape of their neck.
The children, made up of 15 boys and 14 girls, were aged between one and 13, with a typical age of three, the study found.
Five of the youngsters were left with scars following their accident, and overall 10 needed split-thickness and seven full-thickness skin grafts.
The children had been referred to the units from A&E departments, other burns units and from a number of hospitals.
The researchers, from Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Welsh Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, said there was a need to “promote public awareness of this type of injury”.
They added: “The use of home exercise equipment is increasing and treadmills are becoming more popular.
“This has brought with it an emerging but preventable problem.
“All injuries occurred at home and the majority of children trapped their hand under the running belt when an adult was using the machine.
“Most of the injuries were to the upper limb (97 per cent) with less than 1 per cent of the total body surface area burnt.”