DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Many North Texas children are banding together to see and be seen with the latest shape wrapped around their wrist. Specially-shaped bracelets are gaining prominence in American elementary schools. They’re shaped like animals, objects, numbers and more, and are often traded and showed off among children and their friends.
However, this trend has taken some North Texas families by surprise.
“It had been cutting off the circulation,” said mother Gina Corwin,” He couldn’t tell me what was wrong, but he was saying, ‘off, off, off.’”
Corwin, a mother of ten children, said she rarely panics, but knew something was wrong then. Her two-and-a-half year old son Huck Corwin slept with about 20 of the shaped rubber bands wrapped around his wrist. Corwin said when he woke up, his once-tiny hand was swollen and blue.
She quickly peeled the bands off his arm, finding some of the tightest were embedded in his wrist.
“It looked like he’d cut his wrist with a knife and he was bleeding,” Corwin said. “It was pretty bad.”
Weeks after the incident, Huck still remembers what happened. He and his older brother Finn played with the bands while CBS 11’s cameras were rolling.
Finn tried to put some bands on his brother’s wrist, which still had a small white scar from the cut.
“No, no, my boo-boo,” Huck told his brother, jerking his hand away from the bands.
He then asked Finn to put the bands on his other hand.
Dr. Linley McAnalley, a family friend, saw Huck’s hand and said he was lucky his mother pulled the bands off.
“The bands, if they’re worn too tight for too long, can create a tourniquet type effect and can interfere with the blood flow into and out of the hand,” McAnalley said. “The blood gets stagnant in the hand; blood clots can form.”
This is a scare 8-year-old Chris Palmier knows all too well. Chris also slept in too many tight bands. His mother, Donnita Palmier, said she was taking him to school when she looked down at his hand.
“It was monstrous! It was huge,” she said. “It was like, from a freak show! It was five times bigger than the other hand.”
A doctor told the family to watch the hand for three days and come in if the swelling remained. On the fourth day, the blood flow returned.
“At some point, there is going to be a horrible story about a child that wasn’t discovered soon enough,” Palmier said.
Palmier is one of seven nationwide who has filed complaints with the Consumer Product Safety Commission reporting similar problems involving the tight rubber bands.
“It’s something parents need to be aware of,” said Dr. Craig Huant, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern. “Best case scenario would be there is temporary discomfort, swelling, and you keep the part elevated. Worst case scenario, you get a lack of blood flow, lack of oxygen to tissues and you lose a finger or a hand.”
An online search shows many blog entries and forum posts from parents expressing concern about the shaped bands. YouTube videos show disc jockeys seeing how many they can put on their arm before their circulation is cut off.
In a statement, the president of Sillybandz, the first company to make the products, defended his business, saying that many “knockoffs” are what cause circulation issues.
“Sillybandz have been out for almost three years now, and to date we have never received a complaint about the quality or safety of our product, however we have heard of many complaints revolving around the knockoffs,” wrote Robert Croak in a statement. “Unfortunately, the knockoffs do not make any effort to use real silicone or even size the bands correctly.”
The website’s blog reads, “If you wrap anything too tight around your arm it will cut off circulation.” The post says that Silly Bandz are meant to “wear very big like a bracelet.”
“Who is going to go online and look this up,” Palmier asked. “I just want people to know and check. You have to know things can go wrong with them.”