Sunday, March 09, 2008

Preventing iPod, PDA & SmartPhone Hand Pain

Guidelines for use of handheld devices ...

"According to The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT), heavy use of handheld electronic devices can lead to hand ailments. In this national consumer education alert - initially issued in January of 2005 and recently reissued - professional hand therapists offer tips for preventing injuries caused by the extreme use of small personal music devices, smart phones and PDAs.

The excessive use of scroll wheels and frequent text-messaging associated with portable electronic devices are causing thumb, finger and wrist pain. “We are giving our thumbs, wrists, and elbows a real workout with heavy use of handheld electronics like blackberries and iPods,” said former ASHT president Donna Breger Stanton. Injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, “BlackBerry Thumb” and tendinitis are being seen with increasing frequency as the use of these popular devices is increasing.

ASHT GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHIER USE OF HANDHELD ELECTRONIC DEVICES – A SUMMARY

Respect Pain. If you have pain while using a hand held device, stop and take a break. Pain is the body’s warning sign that something is wrong. Pain may be indicating that you are straining muscle groups.

Be aware of wrist positioning. Hold the device with the wrist in a neutral position (not bent forward or back or angled to either side). Even a small amount of wrist angulation can increase tension on the tendons and nerves.

Take a break. Every 20 minutes or so, take a micro-break (stop the activity for one or two minutes, stretch, or switch to another activity). Repetitive motions such as pressing small device buttons can cause inflammation of the tendons or cause nerve irritation.

Relax your arms. If possible, place pillows in your lap and rest your arms on the pillows. Or use the device with the forearms supported on a desk or tabletop (however, do not lean the elbows onto a hard surface or press the elbow or forearms onto the sharp edge of the desk). This will allow you to keep your head in a more upright position than if the device is held in your lap and therefore decrease neck strain. The pillows or desk will help support the arms so they do not have to be held up in the air.

Sit in an appropriate chair. This is a chair that allows you to put your feet comfortably on the floor and also provides good back support."    (Continued via Bella Online, Marji Hajic)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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