Avoiding computer-related injuries

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It may seem easier to work at a computer than on a construction site, but sitting and staring at a monitor for long periods is hard on the back and eyes.


Problems don’t just crop up with a desktop PC, but also with smartphones, tablets or notebook computers.

Able to do almost everything that a large PC can, these devices have become mobile offices for many people, and also a source of health problems.

Text neck

“A lot of people crane their neck downwards when using their smartphone, hyperextending the neck muscles,” noted Wolfgang Panter, president of the Association of German Business and Company Doctors.

The condition is known as “text neck” a reference to texting.

Neck and back strain can be avoided by waiting to read some messages under better conditions.

“Everyone should consider using a PC for longer things; it’s certainly better suited for them,” Panter said. People who want to use their smartphone anyway should hold it in different positions, and sometimes up high, in front of their face, so that their neck stays as straight as possible.

Back pain

Using a desktop PC is no guarantee of fewer problems, though. To prevent back pain, users should arrange their workplace ergonomically.

“The desktop should be at elbow height so that the forearms rest comfortably on it,” said Ulrike Steinecke, chairwoman of the German Physiotherapy Association.

At workplaces used by more than one person, both the desk and computer monitor should be height-adjustable. Not every monitor is.

All-in-one PCs tend to be quite inflexible.

Chair flexibility is important too,. The PC user’s feet should rest completely on the floor, with the knees a little lower than the hips.

Hand movement

There are also ways to avoid hand strain from a computer mouse and keyboard. Typical use compresses the median nerve in the wrist’s carpal tunnel, Steinecke warned. “This,” she said, “can cause a repetitive strain injury with mild paraesthesia or even slight paralysis.”

Eye care

To relieve the eyes, proper desk alignment is important.

Staring at a glare-free monitor can cause problems, too, if the eyes’ protective tear film dries up.DPA



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