Friday, September 21, 2007

Stand tall, get a grip

Teaching kids good ergonomic habits ...

"Students at Kennebunk Elementary School are being told to sit up straight, get a grip and lose the weight in their backpacks.

For the second year in a row, every one of the 454 students at the K-3 school is being evaluated to make sure they fit their desks, hold pencils for maximum efficiency and are hauling around no more than 15 percent of their body weight in their book bags and knapsacks.

Ergonomics -- the science of designing work and living space to conform to the human body -- is moving out of the office cubicle and into the classroom. A few schools in Maine, such as Kennebunk Elementary and Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth, are leading an effort that some experts hope will result in fewer aches and pains.

"Schools are looking more at ergonomics as being something that needs to be thought about," said Karen Jacobs, a professor of occupational therapy at Boston University and past president of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

One indicator of lower-back problems in adulthood is lower- back pain in childhood, Jacobs said. Teaching children how to sit straight and to take frequent breaks away from their computers will pay off, she said.

In 2001, some 7,000 children were seen in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to backpacks, according to the association, which is promoting National School Backpack Awareness Day today.

At Kennebunk Elementary this month, every student is being ergonomically evaluated.

On Tuesday, 14 of the 18 children in Stacey Schatzabel's third- grade class discovered they were not holding their pencils in the "preferred pincer grasp," or the "mature dynamic tripod grasp" as it is known among ergonomic experts.

School occupational therapist Tracy Mason told the children the best way to practice holding their pencils is to imagine their fingers as a family driving in the car.

The index finger and thumb gripping the pencils are the mother and father sitting in the front seat. The three other fingers are the children sitting in the back seat.

"You don't want Mommy sitting in Daddy's lap or Daddy sitting in Mommy's lap, and you definitely do not want everyone sitting in front," she said, eliciting giggles around the room."    (Continued via Portland Press Herald)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Ergonomic Pencil Grip - Ergonomics

Ergonomic Pencil Grip

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