Pain In The Neck: Too Much Texting
Could Lead To Overuse Injuries
The world record for fastest text message
typing is held by a 21-year old college student from Utah, but his
dexterous digits could mean serious injury later on. Most adults aged
18-21 prefer texting over e-mail or phone calls, and ergonomics
researchers are starting to wonder whether it's putting the younger
generation at risk for some overuse injuries – once reserved
for older adults who have spent years in front of a computer.
Judith Gold, an assistant professor of
Epidemiology at the College of Health Professions and Social Work,
thinks this might be the case. At this year's annual meeting of the
American Public Health Association, she presented preliminary research
which suggested that among college students, the more they texted, the
more pain they had in their neck and shoulders.
"What we've seen so far is very similar to
what we see with office workers who've spent most of their time at a
computer," said Gold, who directs the Ergonomics and Work Physiology
Laboratory. "The way the body is positioned for texting –
stationary shoulders and back withrapidly moving fingers – is
similar to the position for typing on a computer."
Text messaging is a fairly new technology,
Gold said, so this is a new area of research among ergonomists. "But
given the similarities in body position, findings from research on
overuse injuries from computers could be applicable here," she said.
Current studies on computer use show office
workers are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and tendonitis.
In Gold's lab, she and her team use tools
like infrared cameras, motion analysis and heart rate monitors to study
the body's position in several job-related simulations. But given the
prevalence of text messaging among young adults, Gold wants to delve
further into the physiological effects of this latest form of
"Looking around our campus, you see every
student on their cell phones, typing away," she said. "It's the age
group that texts the most, so it's important to know what the health
effects may be to learn whether it will cause long-term damage."
For more information on College of Health
Professions and Social Work at Temple University, visit www.temple.edu.