Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Smartphones and tablets could cause neck and back injuries

Ever since we started typing, repetitive strain injury, or an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained or awkward positions has become a fairly large problem (Source: Wikipedia). Typing and use of a mouse causes pain in the hands, wrist and even the shoulder. But it appears that too much reliance on smartphones and tablets may lead to a more serious form of RSI. 

"Health experts in Britain have warned that strain injuries stemming from long periods spent staring at small screens and tapping at tiny keys can be debilitating. And such injuries are becoming more common as high-tech gadgets grow ever more popular.
x x x  
I had a patient who developed inflamed tendons in her thumb from using her smartphone and was unable to use her hand for weeks due to pain," said Tim Hutchful from the British Chiropractic Association. Sammy Margo of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy said that people's bodies are not designed to be used like this.
The phones are far too small, with keys that are too small."
Injury to the hands is an old problem, but it looks like RSI now comes in a more serious from, called text neck.
"As well as hand injuries, experts point to problems among smartphone and tablet users arising from hours spent leaning over tiny screens. 
The weight of an average human head is between 10 to 12 pounds (4.5 to 5.5 kilogrammes)," said Hutchful. In an ideal posture, where a vertical line can be drawn from your ear through your shoulder, hip, knee and ankle, 'the weight is carried efficiently', he noted. 
But if the head is constantly held forward to squint at a screen, then the unusual posture makes the head feel up to four times heavier, increasing strain across the whole body, he explained."
Unlike laptops which have screen angled to keep ones head erect, tablets are kept flat on a table or slightly raised only to allow access to they virtual keyboard forcing the users to bend their head forward.  It looks like smartphones and tablets have brought RSI to our necks and back as well.
It is pretty much impossible to avoid computers these days, for both work and pleasure.  Ergonomically designed devices should reduce injury. In the meantime, keep your head erect while using your smartphone or tablet, and it looks like it is not time yet to ditch your desktop and laptop as your primary computing device.

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...