ARC16: CSP should combat the rise of technology-related MSK problems in children, say delegates

Physiotherapists are warning that increasing numbers of young children are developing musculoskeletal (MSK) problems – known as ‘text neck’ or ‘computer hump’ – because they are using electronic devices in schools.


Delegates at the Annual Representative Conference carried the motion. Photo: Lorne Campbell/Guzelian

This was the message from Michelle Baylis, speaking on behalf of the Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists, on the second day of the CSP’s Annual Representative Conference in Manchester.

She explained that paediatric physiotherapists were receiving an increasing number of referrals for children with back and neck pain, which was often associated with the use of new technology in schools.

‘Typically the incidence of back and neck pain increases with age but we are now treating more and more school age patients, who have never reported problems before.

‘Hunching over electronic devices from a young age can entrench bad habits, which may cause further problems in adulthood, and this poor posture can lead to permanent wear and tear.’

Children need to be protected

The conference heard that the everyday physical demands of school life, sedentary lifestyles, poor posture and a lack of education about the risks of using electronic devices were all contributing to an increase in MSK problems in young people.

‘Children in schools need to be protected in the same way that adults are protected by work place regulations,’ said Ms Baylis.

‘These require employers to assess work stations to reduce the risk of MSK injuries and provide information and training to their employees.’

Ms Baylis called on the CSP to take action, by actively encouraging the development of advice and guidelines for teachers and schools about how children could safely use technology in school and reduce the risk of developing MSK problems.

In addition she suggested that the society should undertake a scoping project to find out the prevalence of repetitive strain injuries, neck and back pain in children and young people.

Educate young people about the risks

Helen Owen, speaking on behalf of West Midlands region, seconded the motion.

She said: ‘The digital generation are taught about online bullying, warned of untoward characters and told which websites to avoid – but they are not being taught about the physical problems that can arise from over-use of these technologies.

‘If we are to set a good example and teach them about the benefits of using these technologies then we also need to warn them about the physical side effects that can happen.’

The motion was carried.

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