One of Britain’s top emergency doctors has called for people to take a “reality check” to avoid serious injury as the latest internet stunt phenomenon ‘Batmanning’ gathers pace.
Dr John Heyworth, immediate past president of the College of Emergency Medicine and a consultant at Southampton General Hospital, added people should remember “Batman isn’t real” as the urge to hang upside down from walls, doors and goalmouths sweeps the world.
“It’s important with this kind of phenomenon to get a reality check and to remember that Batman isn’t real, which is sad but true. The things that Batman can do, sadly mere humans can’t,” he said.
Dr Heyworth spoke out after a video of a group of young men hanging from a variety of buildings logged more than a million hits within a month of appearing online and has set the trend for numerous recordings of accidents and falls.
He added: “We are particularly concerned about head injuries, but falling from any height is dangerous for your neck, so there is a real risk of people sustaining head injuries or serious neck injuries and both of these can result in lifelong disability.”
The activity is inspired by planking – where people are photographed lying flat on surfaces in strange places – and has been likened to the banned rugby spear tackle “but worse” by a spinal specialist.
“My biggest concern is that we witnessed a definite increase in injuries from planking and that is less hazardous than hanging upside down from ledges and walls,” said Evan Davies, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General and a representative of European spinal body AOSpine.
“It is akin to the spear tackle in rugby, so for people to put themselves in a worse, vulnerable position in an uncontrolled environment is astounding.
“It takes one fall and a heavy landing from this position to knock yourself out and sustain a serious neck injury and you face becoming quadriplegic or worse.”
Dr Heyworth added that he and his fellow clinicians are fighting a battle with human nature, the popularity of viral videos and the internet and media intervention that is often too late.
“We live in an age where the impact of the standard media – the TV and newspapers – is far less than online, frankly, and there is very little that anyone can do to regulate internet sites – and when things go viral, they achieve their own momentum.
“I can understand the press and media won’t report on the harmful effects of these activities until something does go wrong, by which time you could say it is too late.”
Posted on Thursday 13 October 2011