VILLANOVA, Pa. – While technologies such as Blackberries, Wii and Laptops have added convenience and entertainment to many people’s lives, they are also creating an influx of overuse injuries in many adults and children. Many physical therapy clinics, like Excel Physical Therapy and Fitness in Villanova, Pa, have seen an increase in patients with overuse injuries as a result of technology.
“People are addicted to their handheld devices, and both adults and children are seeking medical treatment for their pain,” Says Valerie Brill, PT, OCS, clinic manager of Excel Physical Therapy and Fitness. “Daily use of computers, phones, PDAs and video games can cause pain, swelling and repetitive strain to the musculoskeletal system, because the body was not designed for this type of activity.”
Other symptoms of technology addiction can include carpal tunnel syndrome, tingling of the hands and fingers, neck pain, back pain and eyesight strain.
Overuse injuries from technology are not just limited to adults. Children are also spending more time using handheld communication devices and computers. However, while adults typically use a computer sitting at a desk, children often work on the computer in different postures, such as sitting on the bed or lying on the floor.
“Many of these postures cause extreme strain on the neck as kids look at the screen. Low back pain is also common from being unsupported while they play,” says Brill. “The medical community at large is concerned that overuse injuries in children could lead to pain and poor posture as they grow into adulthood.”
Brill offers the following tips to help mitigate and prevent overuse injuries from technology:
1. About 20 to 30 minutes of game playing is appropriate. Individuals should listen to the warning clues on the video games and take a break. Wii sports have clues built in. They should also take breaks from the computer, Blackberry or PDA at least every 15-20 minutes.
2. Technology users should stretch their wrists, elbows and shoulders throughout the day, both when they are using the device and when they’re not.
3. Individuals should be aware of ergonomics at workstations, making sure they are sitting in good postures with their arms supported, feet on the floor and hips and knees bent to 90 degrees.
4. If an injury occurs, an individual should ice the painful area and begin strengthening exercises when the pain subsides.
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