While technology improves lives and workplace experiences, it also comes at a cost for people through greater risk of serious injury. Technology injuries are increasing as people use computers and devices throughout their entire day. Being hooked up could end painfully unless people pay close attention to safety and ergonomics.
Repetitive motion is the major source of tech-related injuries. People are continuously swiping and pressing buttons. They are using the same motions, affecting the same muscles for prolonged periods. People’s bodies and extremities were not meant to do the same thing repeatedly. This is the same concept behind carpal tunnel syndrome. Technology puts people on a permanent cycle, and it will hurt the body parts that they use time and again.
The key to avoiding serious injury is for users to frequently change ergonomics. People need to check themselves every so often to ensure that they shift positions. It is important for individuals to shift the position of the neck and elbows occasionally to minimize the strain on them.
Overuse also presents an issue for technology users. People can hold the phone for hours, clicking and swiping without any interruption. Even if they change positions, it does not fully alleviate the burden on the hands and elbow. One can develop nerve issues called “cell phone elbow” that could result in finger numbness.
Technology also places a strain on the eyes that focus on a screen continuously. The eyes need to work harder, especially when they are trying to focus on a screen that is six inches or less. Computer Vision Syndrome is the name for what happens when eyes are damaged from too much screen time. One can avoid this by placing the screen below eye levels and away from the eyes. Frequent breaks are also necessary to reduce the burden on the eyes.
Things like “Blackberry Thumb” are now giving way to “PlayStation Palm.” Name the technology device, and there seems to be a way for people to injure themselves using it. Consumers often find a way to use a product extremely. For example, some people are diagnosed with rashes and lesions on their palms from gripping a video game controller too tight. However, the engineers who design these products also need to be more aware of how people may use them and adjust designs accordingly to maximize safety.
There are far more serious tech injuries than the ones that can cause prolonged physical pain. Research has shown that people who use cell phones for a prolonged period of time can suffer tinnitus, which is a form of ringing in their ears. More alarming are instances in which technology has been shown to cause seizures. Children have suffered from photosensitive epilepsy when they are exposed to flashing lights from a video game.
While technology is an overall net positive, people need to be careful in how they use it. Some moderation can go a long way towards protecting against repetitive stress injuries, and avoiding defective products can help with further prevention.