Friday, May 09, 2008

Computer usage taking a toll on young India's health

CRI requires examination of several variables ...

"Nitin and Gitika are victims of Computer Related Injury (CRI) that’s wreaking havoc on young India’s health. It’s caused when muscles, tendons or nerves are compressed for a long period, resulting in severe pain, numbness and a tingling sensation. Generally, neck, back, shoulders, elbows, arms or wrists are affected.

It’s also known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

As more people get hooked to laptops, mobiles and even playstations, incidence of CRI has become common. Earlier, wrist pain or numbness in the hand would be common among older people, but in the last few years, it’s the young (20-30 yrs) who’ve been suffering from it. Even schoolchildren are reporting it.

"Youngsters today are spending a lot of time on computers. I get at least 8-10 cases of neck and back pain every week," says Vikas Gupta, consultant, hand and upper extremity surgery, Fortis Group.

"I have seen nearly 56 youngsters suffering from RSI in the last few years," says Dr Deepak Sharan, medical director, RECOUP Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation Centre, Bangalore. "Incorrect use of iPods, playstations and mobiles have resulted in the disorder."

For the last seven years, Sharan has been conducting a study among IT professionals in Bangalore. The ongoing study on 30,000 professionals has found that 75% showed musculoskeletal symptoms related to work.

In nearly 60% cases, it was the neck and upper back which were affected, in 40% it was the lower back, while 30% had pain in the upper extremity.

In 20%, it was a generalised disorder associated with constant pain and numbness. Gupta, too, is doing a study on CRI in the Capital. Wrong postures and insufficient knowledge of ergonomics at workplace are two of the main causes.

Most companies blindly follow ergonomics recommendation from American or European countries, ignoring the fact that an average Indian is at least five inches shorter than his western counterpart. Also, most often, the postures are incorrect, with people either slouching or using the laptop sitting on the bed.

Yet, as Sharan says, CRI is a multi-factorial disorder. "It is not always to do with long hours in front of the computer. Many get it inspite of just checking emails on their laptops," he says. Psycho-social factors also play a big role, he says. Many times, stress, too, can worsen the situation."    (Continued via The Times of India)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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