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About Half of all Kids Suffer Pain After Computer Use
Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 Kristen DiPaolo | CWK Producer
Connect With Kids

“The computer’s mouse was really big and my son’s hands are really small. For him to manage and move the mouse as well as he does he has to stretch and hold his hand in a certain position for a very long time.”

– April Jackson, mother

At just 3 years old, Damien is hooked on computer games.

“He loves them,” explains his mom, April Jackson. “He’ll stay on the computer for about an hour -- two hours if we let him.”

Then, one day, Damien started having sharp pains.

“He was complaining about his hand hurting,” says Jackson. “He would curl his hand up and ball his fingers up and wouldn’t let them go. He was saying, ‘Oh, it hurts! It hurts!’”

Jackson rushed her son to the emergency room, thinking he had fallen and sprained his wrist. The problem, it turns out, was too much time using the computer mouse.

“The mouse was really big,” says Jackson, “and his hands are really small. For him to manage and move the mouse as well as he does he has to stretch and hold his hand in a certain position for a very long time.”

Research from San Francisco State University shows that 30 percent of kids have wrist pain after using a computer; 15 percent have back or neck pain.

“Initially, it comes on as being something that may ache for a day,” says Juliet Steffe, a doctor of occupational therapy at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Then you start to see it become more of a chronic issue for the child, where they are constantly complaining.”

Steffe says parents should limit the amount of time kids spend on a computer. “Typically it shouldn’t be more than 20 or 30 minutes,” says Steffe. “Our bodies need to move after that amount of time of sitting still.”

Steffe also says to be sure your child uses good posture. For example, parents may need to adjust the table or chair so the child is eye level with the computer screen.

“We always use a 90-90 rule,” explains Steffe, “where you keep the knees at 90 degrees and the hips and trunk [of the body] at 90 degrees.”

To help reduce Damien’s hand pain, his mother bought him a child-size mouse. And, most importantly, she has limited his time on the computer.

“We’ll pull him off the computer and try to distract him by getting him to do other things,” says Jackson.

Tips for Parents
Take at least a five-minute break after every 30 minutes of computer use. (Rutgers University)

Gently move your neck, shoulders and hands through their range of motion every 10 to 15 minutes. (Rutgers University)

Strike the keys lightly and hold the mouse lightly. (Rutgers University)

See a doctor immediately if there is pain or tingling in your fingers or wrists that is recurrent or lasts more than a day. (Rutgers University)

When you sit in a chair, position your thighs horizontally, with your knees at the same level as your hips. Rest your feet comfortably on the floor or on a footrest. Do not hunch forward or rest your elbows on the desk. (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons)

When typing, your elbows should form a 90 degree angle. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor. Your wrists should be nearly straight. hen typing, your wrists should float just above the keyboard. (Rutgers University)

References
Children’s Health Care of Atlanta
Institute for Holistic Healing Studies/Health Education, San Francisco State University
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Rutgers University

For more information, visit www.ConnectWithKids.com

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