Sunday, October 14, 2007

Students using laptops risk 'persistent' pain

Kids also suffer from RSI ...

"Students who regularly use laptops are putting themselves in danger of persistent neck, back, shoulder and wrist pain, and they are often unaware of the risks they are taking until it is too late, according to new research.

Surveys carried out by ergonomist Rachel Benedyk and her team at University College London's Interaction Centre found that 57% of respondents had experienced aches and pains as a result of their laptop use, with 7% having pain a lot of the time. The survey involved 649 undergraduate and postgraduate students of a range of nationalities, and the majority said they had never encountered ergonomic guidance on laptop use.

The research is ongoing, but Ms Benedyk found the initial results so worrying that she decided to produce a preventative ergonomic-advice leaflet for students.

"I'd love to say: 'Don't make your laptop your main computer,'" she told EducationGuardian.co.uk, "but I'm also aware of the positives - how they fit so well into students' lives due to their mobility."

Instead, Ms Benedyk recommends that laptop users carry out prolonged tasks with their machine set up on a desk, with an external keyboard and mouse attached. This allows them to adopt a much safer posture, rather than the position a laptop forces them into.

"I'm not saying that sitting at a desk is the only way to use a laptop in a healthy manner when doing quick, 10-minute tasks. The problem is when students use their machines intensively for hours and hours in unsuitable postures," Ms Benedyk said.

Of those surveyed, 21% admitted to using their machines on their laps, 19% in bed, 13% while lying on their fronts and 9% while kneeling. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many students go on to spend extended periods of their leisure time on their laptops as well."    (Continued via EducationGuardian)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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