People today have embraced the wonders of technology, particularly the touchscreen. Tablets and smartphones have become personal extensions because of convenience, portability, flexibility, and all-around functionality. However, some may not be aware that gadgets pose risks to physical health.
Before taking photos, chat with family and friends, or spend hours scrolling through social media posts or articles, it is important to know that gadgets can cause injuries and what to do to stay away from gadget-related harm.
“A lot of us don’t realize that the use of gadgets could result in ergonomic issues–meaning pain in the head, neck, and wrist because of awkward postures,” Makati Medical Center Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation chairman Vicente Antonio Reloza said.
“We tend to place our gadgets on our laps, or at a level that requires us to bend our necks forward which can result in neck pain,” he added.
“Holding a tablet flat is bad for the back, but holding it completely perpendicular could be bad for the wrist. Due to the awkward grip on gadgets, it can lead to muscle strain and tendinitis, or inflammation of a tendon. Tendons are bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones,” explained Reloza.
“Other than muscle strains, eyestrain is also common when using touchscreens. This is characterized by redness of the eyes, blurred or double vision, and headaches,” explained Dr. Ramon J. Ongsiako Jr. Center Cataract and Refractive Laser Surgical Center head Edward Uy.
Generally, eyestrain is related to the resolution of the screen, how much light it emits, and the clarity of the images and text.
“It helps to have the screen’s brightness match ambient lighting, but this is harder to achieve with touchscreens or mobile gadgets since these devices are designed to be used while we’re outside or on the move,” Uy continued.
“Before, you stare at a computer screen only during school or work hours, but now we are staring at squares of light almost round-the-clock, from the moment we wake up to the minute we’re in bed to go to sleep.”
Given that gadgets could lead to some risks, Uy also shared how to properly use gadgets to avoid muscle strain and eyestrain.
“It is best to hold your device at an angle where you can see the screen clearly whenever you’re reading. You can also consider wearing eyeglasses suited for mobile screens,” he stressed.
“Whenever you feel any sort of pain or a tingling sensation, change your position to a more comfortable one. Take breaks from the screen as well or vary your posture every 15 minutes,” Reloza said.
Using a case for the gadget that doubles as stand so it can be propped up to keep the head in a neutral position to minimize neck strain is recommended, said the medical practitioners.