Head and neck injuries on the up as children use their devices more

Sharp increase in accidents related to being distracted by cellphones

17 January 2020 - 16:19 By Storm Lewis
'Texting neck' and 'PlayStation thumb' are just two of the injuries affecting young children as they spend more time hunched over their devices.
'Texting neck' and 'PlayStation thumb' are just two of the injuries affecting young children as they spend more time hunched over their devices.
Image: iStock

Texting while walking has been the leading cause of cellphone-related injury for children, according to the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart.

As cellphones become more ubiquitous across daily life so do the injuries associated with their use.

Cellphone injuries are mostly classified as direct mechanical injuries, such as dropping a phone on your face, or indirect injuries, such as falling while distracted.

There has been a sharp increase in accidents related to being distracted by cellphones in the past 20 years, according to a study published in December by the Head and Neck Injury Association and looking at data from emergency departments in the US.

The extended use of cellphones can also have other harmful effects, according to the study.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a painful condition that occurs as a result of repeated motions such as typing or playing a musical instrument. It is a soft tissue injury most common in the head, neck and hands.

These injuries are often named after the body part they affect such as “tennis elbow” or “rubrics wrist”. A 2004 study found that children in Durban were developing early stages of soft tissue injury in the fingers, dubbed “PlayStation thumb”.

Increased cellphone usage has seen a similar condition arising in children who are now using their thumbs to type.

The typical posture when using a cellphone is hunched shoulders and drooping neck to look down at the screen. The weight of the head begins to exert more pressure on the neck the more you lean forward. This naturally leads to neck strain in children spending more time on cellphones.

“Texting neck” is becoming more common in children, and the best solution is to be more aware of your posture and the position of your head.



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