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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Precautions for Children at Computer

Precautions for Children at Computer

Repetitive stress injuries in children, Children overusing computer, computer games for children, carpal tunnel syndrome in children, cervical radiculopathy, epicondylitis, ganglion cyst, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, tendonitis, prevention of RSI, how should child sit in front of computer, how to take care of children?s eyes while at computer use, how to reduce the back pain while working at computer, exercises to be done to reduce pain for computer use.

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are conditions caused by placing too much stress on a joint, and they vary in type and severity. Most RSIs are linked to the stress of repetitive motions at the computer or overuse injuries in sports. RSI in kids may occur from heavy computer or video game use, playing musical instruments, or the repetitive motion of sports like tennis.

Conditions that are the result of RSIs include

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: swelling inside a narrow "tunnel" formed by bone and ligament in the wrist; the tunnel surrounds nerves that conduct sensory and motor impulses to and from the hand, leading to pain, tingling, and numbness
  • Cervical radiculopathy: disk compression in the neck, often caused by repetitive cradling of a phone on the shoulder
  • Epicondylitis: elbow soreness often known as "tennis elbow"
  • Ganglion cyst: swelling or lump in the wrist resulting from jelly-like substance that has leaked from a joint or tendon sheath
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy: a condition characterized by dry, swollen hands and loss of muscle control; consistently painful
  • Tendonitis: tearing and inflammation of tendons connecting bones to muscles.

Preventing RSIs

  • Preventive measures can help kids avoid RSIs altogether:
  • Always remind kids to sit up straight. Slouching or crouching over the keyboard can place undue stress upon the neck, back, or spine and lead to an RSI.
  • Tell kids to avoid tensing their shoulders.
  • Legs should be positioned comfortably and feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest with the legs and hips perpendicular (between 90-100 degrees) relative to the spine.
  • Remind kids that pounding on the keyboard is unnecessary and can hurt both them and the keyboard! Using a light touch to type is best. Also, be sure that they don't reach for the keys; if so, the keyboard should be moved closer. Kids should maintain a 90-degree angle between the wrists and elbows and the upper part of the arms. Fingers and wrists should remain level while typing.
  • Taking frequent breaks is also a important to preventing RSIs. Kids can lose track of time and forget to take breaks, so make sure they rest their eyes, back, wrists, and neck every half hour or so.
  • Stretching, getting a snack or a drink, or walking or taking a bike ride can help kids avoid future pain. Eye twitching; sore, tired, burning, itching, or dry eyes; blurred or double vision; and increased sensitivity to light are all symptoms of eyestrain, so tell kids to look away from the computer and focus on something far away every once in a while. Proper lighting of the workspace will also help to prevent eyestrain.

These guidelines will help you make your family's workplace ergonomically correct

  • Leg position: legs should be positioned comfortably, feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest, with the legs and hips perpendicular (between 90 and 100 degrees) relative to the spine.
  • Chair position: if the computer is used by more than one person, a chair that's comfortable is not the only consideration — you should be able to adjust its height, back angle, and armrest.
  • Back position: the small of the back should be supported with an adjustable lumbar support.
  • Wrist angle: wrists should be in a neutral position for typing or using the mouse, not overly flexed or extended. A wrist rest can keep the hands in the neutral position.
  • Elbow angle: the angle of the elbows should be 90 degrees relative to the upper arms. The elbows should be close to the side of the body so kids won't bend their wrists to the side when typing.
  • Monitor position: the top of the monitor screen should be aligned with the computer user's forehead. Kids should sit about 2 feet from the screen. If the monitor is used by the entire family, get one that is easily adjustable.
  • Keyboard height: the keyboard should be about 27 to 29 inches above the floor, and adjustable so it can be higher for taller people and lower for shorter people.
  • Foot position: feet should rest comfortably on the floor. A raised footrest can help smaller people attain an ergonomically correct position.
  • Repetitive strain (also called cumulative trauma) symptoms include tingling, numbness, and severe pain, which indicate the presence of progressive nerve and muscle damage. Complains excessive fatigue or stiffness in the neck or back.

Treatment includes

  • Application of cold to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Exercises.