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Use of computers

5 July 2005 - 9:10am

Chartered physiotherapists advise adults and children how to avoid aches, pains and RSI when using computers

A new leaflet aimed at preventing computer-related aches and pains, has been launched by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, for BackCare Week (16-22 October 2000).

Two million workers in Britain suffer from work related illnesses.[1] More than half of these are back, neck and limb problems.[2]

It is estimated that around 3.7 million working days are lost each year as a result of back pain alone.[3]

Jacqui Smith, chair of ACPOH (Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health), said: 'Computers have transformed our working lives, not to mention our leisure time. But it is important that we all use them safely if we are not to build up future health problems.

'If we do not sit properly at our computer, take regular breaks and use correctly positioned furniture and equipment, all manner of symptoms can occur.

'These include fatigue, an aching back, stiff neck and pains in the shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. At their worst they can lead to incapacity.'

Many of these symptoms are commonly known as RSI (repetitive strain injury), although the correct term is work related upper limb disorder (WRULD).

Ms Smith said: 'This leaflet explains what employers, employees, teachers and parents need to know about good ergonomics, and gives expert physiotherapy advice to help minimise the risk of developing common conditions associated with computer use.'

The leaflet also advises people on what they can expect from their employer. This includes:

Comprehensive workstation risk assessments
Varied tasks to provide regular breaks from computer-based work
Appropriate information and training on safe computer use, including posture
These principles apply equally to children in the classroom and people at home.

Photos show how best to sit at the workstation. Some simple exercises are also included, which when done every few hours, can help reduce the risk of developing computer-related health complaints.

A free copy of the leaflet is available by sending an A5 sae marked 'Fit to Work' to Communications, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 14 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4ED.


Notes to editors

1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the country's 39,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. Physiotherapy is Britain's fourth largest health profession after medicine, nursing and midwifery.

For further information, please contact the CSP press office on 020 7306 6616 / 28


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