Keenan Blog

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The Toll of Technology: iHurt, uHurt, wii All Hurt

Kathy Espinoza 3/12/2013
Kathy Espinoza

The quest for interconnectedness through mobile technology is at an all-time high, but at what personal price? iPAD neck? Texting thumb? Cell phone shoulder? Instant communication has changed our culture while creating a civilization that screams iHurt!

iPad Neck
The U.S. Dept. of Environmental Health says tablet users have a higher potential for injury over desktop users. The issue with the iPad is where it’s held and viewed. The worst way to use an iPad is on your lap, as it strains the neck and shoulders. Instead, position it at a higher level. For example, if you’re watching a movie, set the iPad on a table or a pillow to limit forward neck flexion. However, when typing, consider investing in a case that doubles as a keyboard to reduce strain on the shoulders and hands when typing at a lower position.

Texting Thumb
Move over typewriter and make room for the mobile device. Opposable thumbs are an asset, but highly subject to overuse when it comes to texting. Texting thumb is a real injury affecting the thumb and wrist that causes pain, popping sounds or decreased grip strength. Pain comes from using the thumb for three-dimensional motions, hovering above a small keypad. Left untreated, permanent damage leading to a loss of grip strength can put a quick end to gaming or texting.

As our dependency on mobile devices increases, so does our tolerance for pain. Here are a few options to consider:

Talk to text options.  Many mobile devices have this capability, and using it will eliminate much of the typing to send a message. Other accessory or built-in accessibility features such as VoiceOver can make a device accessible to all and easier to use.

Speech recognition apps.   These apps can help people control their phone, all by the sound of their voice. You can create an email or text, or even search the web, without typing.

Stylus.  Available in assorted sizes and shapes, with adjustable lengths and ergonomic widths, a stylus can help make better direct contact with a device screen, which means using less force.

Mounts.  Placing your iPad on a mount or stand can reduce the hand tension required to hold it. Many iPad covers come with mount adjustability, and using an external keyboard will help reduce fatigue.

Take breaks.  As with any activity, staying in one position for extended periods is not ideal. So take breaks often. Look around the room, stand up and move a bit. Breaks built into your workday increase circulation and release muscle tension.

Stretch.  Stretch your hands and fingers often by extending them or pressing them together against the fingers of your other hand. Or stretch your arms out in front of you, make a gentle fist and turn the wrist towards the floor with your knuckles down. Then open your hands and raise your fingers up towards the sky. Massaging the web of muscle and tissue between the thumb and palm is also a good release.

Let us know how you stay ergonomic while using your iPad or other mobile device!