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Texts appeal, but are you risking your health?

28 February 2006 - 12:05am

Physios issue advice for mobile gadget users on RSI Awareness Day

News Release: Embargoed 28 February 2006, 00.01 hrs

To coincide with RSI Awareness Day (28 Feb 2006), Chartered Physiotherapists are warning UK text addicts that constant mobile messaging could be harmful to their health.Latest figures reveal that the number of text messages sent everyday has risen to 100 million and that the number of mobile phones currently in circulation exceeds the UK’s population size, taking the figure to over 60 million (1). The Mobile Data Association predicts that 36.5 billion text messages will be sent during 2006, a 14 per cent increase on last year.

With so many people using mobile phones on a daily basis, physiotherapists are concerned that the repetitive movements involved in tapping out messages could cause injuries to the hands, wrists and arms.

Chartered Physiotherapist Bronwyn Clifford has worked with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) on a guide mobile gadget users can follow to help prevent the onset of ‘text message injury’.

Bronwyn says: ‘People often think that repetitive strain injuries are only associated with the workplace. However what we do between 9am and 5pm is not the only factor in the development of these problems.

‘Excessive texting and prolonged use of the buttons and dials found on an array of modern handheld gadgets, including MP3s, Blackberry devices and portable games consoles, can contribute to hand, wrist and arm problems.

‘The small, definite, repetitive movements used to manoeuvre controls on these tiny handsets can begin to cause pain over time. The thumb, while good for gripping, is not a very dextrous digit and is particularly susceptible to injury.’

ENDS

(1) Figures from the Mobile Data Association www.mda-mobiledata.org

Notes to editors
For more information please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 6616/6628/6163 or mobiles 07786 332 197, 07795 564 240, 07900 160 349

The CSP is the professional, educational and trade union body for the country’s 47,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. For previous releases visit www.csp.org.uk

Top tips follow

Tips for texters:
1. Break regularly when texting, before the onset of any discomfort. Try to use both hands together when texting to ‘spread the load’ between thumbs.
2. Learn to use the predictive text feature on your phone. This will reduce the repetitive motion of pressing various keys.
3. Hold the phone up in front of you so you do not have to flex your neck too much as you look down to view the screen.
4. Keep your hands close to your body when holding your phone. The weight of a phone may not feel much, but the load on your arm is significantly increased if the arm is held out stretched and this action will put strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.
5. If your hand or forearm feels tense or sore, massage your arm from the wrist to the elbow and try these three exercises:
a. Regularly open your fingers and gently stretch them out.
b. Stretch your arm out, rotate your wrist so it is facing upwards and with your other hand gently pull your palm down towards the floor to feel a stretch over the front of your forearm muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
c. Stretch your arm out, rotate your wrist so it is facing downwards and with your other hand gently pull your hand back towards your wrist to feel a stretch over the back of your forearm muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

Tips for gadget users:
1. With MP3 players, be aware that simply changing songs too often can lead to repetitive strain injury, especially when using rotating wheels. Try to alternate fingers and hands when operating gadgets.
2. When using game console units, ensure that you break regularly to stretch and move around between games.

For further information on how to avoid RSI, seek professional advice. To find a chartered physiotherapist speak to your GP about a referral to your local physiotherapy service. Alternatively, visit www.physio2u.org.uk for a list of private practitioners in your area.

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