Avoiding Electronic-Use Injuries
The interfaces between electronics and the human body are not perfect. Injuries occur at people’s office workstations and while using cell phones. About 140 people per year injure themselves while playing video games. Most of these injuries are completely preventable with some simple guidance. During Occupational Therapy Month, occupational therapists at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center are joining with the American Society of Hand Therapists to share helpful tips that may help you avoid injury while using your electronics.
- Use a neutral grip when holding the controller or mouse. A neutral grip is one where the wrist is straight, rather than bent in either direction.
- Take a break every hour or switch to another activity. This prevents overuse of one muscle or tendon.
- Make sure the monitor is at the correct height. While looking at the horizon, your eyes should land at the top of the monitor.
- If you are typing, the keyboard should be at the height so the wrist and hands are straight and your forearms are parallel to the keyboard surface.
- When using a hand-held device, like a tablet, put pillows in your lap, and rest your arms on them. This will allow you to keep your head in an upright position and decrease neck strain. The pillows also help support the arms, so you don’t have to hold them up in the air.
- You should be sitting in a chair that allows you to leave your feet comfortably on the floor while also providing good back support.
- When using a single-control device, like a mouse, switch hands frequently. This will allow the hands to rest and reduce fatigue.
- Frequently focus on a distant object away from your computer monitor or other screen, which will help reduce eyestrain.
Following these tips will help prevent common injuries while working or playing with electronics.
Gabrielle Loomis, MSOT, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist who sees patients at SVMC Outpatient Rehabilitation and SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus, a primary care office providing family medicine in Wilmington, VT. Both practices are a part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.