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Posted on 09-01-2011

It's back to school time here in Jefferson Park! Back to school time means more computer time, for lots of students. According to a recent New York Times article, at least 70 percent of America's 30 million elementary school students use computers. As a result of this increased usage, our office has been treating more young patients suffering from the effects of working at computer stations that are either designed for adults or poorly designed for children. Many children are already suffering from repetitive motion injuries (RMI) such as carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic pain in the hands, back, neck and shoulders. This is preventable and treatable!

Computer workstations that don't fit a child's body during the developing years can have harmful physical effects that can last a lifetime. Parents need to be just as concerned about their children's interaction with their computer workstations as they are with any other activities, such as sports and other recreational activities.

What can you do?

To reduce the possibility of your child suffering painful and possibly disabling injuries, Dr. Seaman offers these tips:

  • Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below the child's eye level. This can be accomplished by taking the computer off its base or stand, or having the child sit on firm pillows or phone books to reach the desired height.
  • Make sure the chair at the workstation fits the child correctly. An ergonomic back cushion, pillow or a rolled-up towel can be placed in the small of the child's back for added back support. The chair should also have arm supports so that elbows are resting within a 70- to 135-degree angle to the computer keyboard.
  • Wrists should be held in a neutral position while typing - not angled up or down. The mouse surface should be close to the child so they don't have to reach or hold the arm away from the body.
  • The child's knees should be positioned at an approximate 90- to 120-degree angle. To accomplish this angle, feet can be placed on a foot rest, box, stool or similar object.
  • Reduce eyestrain by making sure there is adequate lighting and that there is no glare on the monitor screen. Use an antiglare screen if necessary.
  • Limit your child's time at the computer and make sure he or she takes periodic stretch breaks during computing time.
  • If your child is using a laptop that is resting on their lap, put a plump pillow or laptop rest underneath to raise the screen and keyboard. This decreases any neck and wrist fatigue from the unit being too low.

If your child continues to complain of pain and strain from sitting at a computer, see Dr. Cynthia Seaman. She can help alleviate your child's pain and help prevent further injury, so give our office a call at 774-545-2233 today!

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