Since 80 percent of kids ages 8 through 18 today regularly use computers, I thought it might be helpful to expand on last Friday’s post and provide a few additional resources to help encourage healthy computing and offer resources for individuals who have already been impacted by monitor misery.
The American Society of Hand Therapists issued a national alert regarding the potential for musculoskeletal injuries or disorders in people who use video games. Here’s what parents can do to help prevent repetitive motion injuries:
• Read the warnings that come with your child’s video games.
• Monitor you child’s usage on video games and computers.
• Make sure he stops and takes a break every 20 to 30 minutes.
• Encourage your child to go outside and engage in a physical activity.
• Don’t let him sit too close to the video game/monitor and make sure he doesn’t hunch over or tense up his muscles.
Help your child avoid stresses and injuries by working their muscles in a relaxed and efficient manner.
• Provide support for your child’s back, especially the lower back. A supportive chair is ideal, but a pillow or rolled up towel will suffice. A pillow behind a small child’s back can also help to shorten a seat depth that is too long.
• Show your child the proper arm position when using the keyboard or mouse, which is slightly greater than a 90-degree angle. Your child should not be reaching up and/or forward, as it places a lot of tension on muscles. Consider an adjustable keyboard tray. Child-sized keyboards and various designs are available.
• Adjust the chair so your child is looking straight at the monitor, not tilting her head back or twisting to get a good view. Make sure her feet are supported, with the knees at the same level or slightly lower than the hips. If a footrest is not available, use phone books or a box.
• Provide built-in adjustability as your child grows or if your family shares a computer. You can purchase adjustable keyboard trays in height and tilt, adjustable chairs, and an adjustable height monitor. These will allow each family member to customize the station for comfort and safety.
• Place a light source to the side, preferably at a 90-degree angle.
• Most importantly, you can lead by example. These same guidelines should apply to mom and dad.
For step-by-step information on how to properly set up a computer workstation visit the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health & Safety Administration’s web site.
Think your child has a gaming related injury?
If so, remember that WakeMed Rehab is available to assist at multiple outpatient locations throughout the Triangle, including your local YMCA. Physical Therapy evaluations and treatments are available with a physician referral and free physical therapy screenings are available for YMCA members. For information or to schedule a screening, call 350-3800.