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Social media’s milk crate challenge could cause ‘lifelong’ problems, doctors say

The original video begins with a crowd gathered around a stack of black and blue milk crates as a woman with pink hair, dressed in a sports bra and legging, begins her ascent up the pyramid.

She places her foot on the first crate, then the second stacked crate, and somewhere around the third stack the tower beneath her white flip-flops begins to wobble and she falls, sending the pyramid of milk crates toppling across the lawn.

The video, first posted to Facebook earlier this month, is believed to be the origin point for the so-called milk crate challenge, a viral trend in which others attempt to conquer their own tower of milk crates, oftentimes falling in the same way as the unidentified pink-haired woman in the original video. The videos have received million of views on platforms such as TikTok, Facebook and Twitter, and countless copycats have posted their own challenges to social media.

But concerns from doctors and safety experts have led some social media platforms like TikTok to remove videos of the challenge, in an effort to prevent others from sustaining serious injuries.

Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon based in Atlanta, Georgia, said other surgeons like herself have been sharing videos of the challenge and encouraging their followers to abstain.

“This is probably the one that I’ve seen that has the highest potential for bodily injury that will take people out not just of their daily lives, but could have lifelong implications,” she said.

Don Caldwell, editor-in-chief of Know Your Meme, said that the milk crate video, which the meme database has dubbed the “Walk On Milk Crates Challenge,” is part of a genre of internet videos known as “fail video.” He said while he’s seen comparisons to the “Tide Pod challenge,” in which participants allegedly consumed Tide’s laundry detergent pods, in terms of the hazards associated with the trend, the milk crate challenge could be riskier.

“I’ve seen quite a few people compare this to the Tide Pod challenge,” he said. “I think the Tide Pod challenge, there was an air of people pretending to do it but not actually doing it because you can easily fake trying to eat a Tide Pod … with this milk crate challenge, it’s pretty hard to fake it,” he said.

It’s unclear how many minor or serious injuries have been sustained from the challenge, but some of the most viral videos show those climbing the pyramids taking hard falls.

In light of the potential dangers associated with the challenge, platforms like TikTok have disabled the ability to search for the term “milk crate challenge” and some videos of the challenge have since been removed.

“TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our Community Guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email to NBC News.

Wright warned that a person who attempts the challenge could sustain injuries such as a wrist fracture, a forearm fracture, a broken femur, a torn ACL, or a concussion with a head bleed that could potentially lead to lifelong damage.

She added that because the nation’s hospitals are already strained due to Covid-19, taking part in a challenge that could send a person to the hospital means the participant might be waiting longer than usual for treatment.

In order to not overwhelm hospitals, Wright encouraged those considering the milk crate trend to sit this one out.

“I get that it’s fun but let’s use our brains for something other than hitting our heads on the ground,” she said.

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