Gadgets and Ergonomics - Tips on How Kids and Adults Alike Can Avoid Ailments While Using Newest Tech Items

Contact: Robin Waxenberg - (212) 489-8006 Ellen Satlof - (214) 637-6282, ext. 159 DALLAS, March 14 – They’re getting smaller, faster and more sophisticated by the minute, allowing us to do things we never dreamed possible. With the never ending wave of new cellphones, PDAs, handheld games and other electronic gadgetry infiltrating our lives, it’s no wonder that Americans of all ages have been experiencing an increase in repetitive motion injuries. “While there has been no published data yet on the trend of children with injuries from handheld games and computers, on average, children in this country are spending one to three hours daily on the computer,” said Mary L. Mundrane-Zweiacher, ATC, CHT, certified athletic trainer at Brown & Associates, an orthopaedic and sports medicine practice in Dover, Del. “This is something we all need to be concerned about.” Mundrane-Zweiacher evaluates and provides care to patients with sports injuries and hand trauma. She is among the 30,000 members of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. Throughout March, NATA is celebrating National Athletic Training Month with the theme, “Be Active – Stay Healthy.” “As addictive as handheld games can be, it’s important that for every hour of play there should be a 10 to 15 minute rest,” said Mundrane-Zweiacher. If users experience wrist or hand soreness, she advises they take a break of several hours. “Quick stretching and gentle exercise should be done every one to two hours.” Mundrane-Zweiacher advises that whether you’re text messaging, playing video games or simply sending e-mails, you should:

  • Rest your eyes every 15 minutes, by looking away from the screen for a few minutes to something a short distance away and blinking your eyes rapidly for a few seconds.
  • Rest your hands after bursts of typing.
  • Stand up, move around, and do something else every 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Do quick stretches and gentle exercises every one to two hours.

To prevent overuse injuries, Mundrane-Zweiacher also suggests you:

  • Keep your back and wrist posture in a neutral position while sitting and keyboarding.
  • Configure your workstation appropriately so you have easy access to your equipment.
  • Keep you upper and lower back straight in neutral, whether using the back of chair or leaning forward.
  • Seat size should be appropriate for your height and size. Set your seat so that it does not compress the back of your knees.
  • Your feet should be in contact with the floor.
  • Balance your head so it’s not tilted back or leaning too far forward.
  • Keep your upper arms close to your body and relaxed.
  • Keep your wrists at a neutral position, level with your forearm.
  • Make sure your chair armrests are not directly compressing any part of the forearms or elbows.
  • Move your mouse with motion from the forearm and not just the wrist.

Athletic trainers are the primary health care professionals that many high school and college athletes are in contact with on a daily basis. They are in a good position to educate them about the physical demands the newest gadgets exert on the muscles of their hands and wrists which can cause overuse injuries. Athletic trainers also offer them exercises to help restore full function. “Many of these overuse injuries can affect the athlete’s ability to perform at their chosen sport,” said Mundrane-Zweiacher. “An example would be a baseball player who text messages a lot and develops trigger thumb, or inflammation of the thumb flexor tendon. In order to lock in a fly ball in the glove webbing, the athlete needs to contract the thumb flexor and this will be painful if his tendon is inflamed. He may reach a point where he drops balls because he can’t control the ball in the pocket.” The long-term consequences of prolonged or repetitive activity on handheld games or computers include degenerative conditions such as arthritis or degenerative joint disease, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger thumb. “To avoid these ailments, it’s important that children and adults alike take these simple precautions,” said Mundrane-Zweiacher. About the NATA: Certified athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports the 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. . NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).

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