Each and every activity undertaken by a child involves some level of stress and strain. The level of stress can be reduced to a great extent by following proper instruction and by taking breaks in between work. Computer is probably the latest addition of gadgets which keep the child involved for hours. This is a great source of learning and entertainment. The child can do his homework and accelerate the learning process by surfing the net and find new topics of discussion. During spare time he can indulge in computer games, which are quite addictive and generally involves long hours of the child sticking to the computer.
Long hours working on the computer does result in injuries to the child caused due to stress. In case proper care and precautions are not taken these could result in repetition of stress related injuries popularly known as repetitive stress injuries. These are caused when excess of stress is placed on some joints of the body due to repetition of a particular motion of one part of the body. This type of injury is generally caused by repeated motion of hand or other part of the body in the same sequence, often while playing computer games.
When a muscle is stressed especially at the joints repeatedly, the muscles get pulled. When this type of action is repeated, stress is caused resulting in irritated muscles. This results in different types of problems in different parts of the body. Some of them are:
The most common is swelling inside a tunnel that is formed between bones and ligaments of the wrist and other moving parts of the hand. This tunnel hinders the normal functioning of the nerves that causes motor impulses in the hand. The restriction of normal movement results in pain or numbness in hand.
Disc compression also quite a common problem with the kids who spend a lot of time on the computer. The disc of the neck gets compressed due to repetitive and identical movement of shoulders while working on the computer.
Other problems face by computer addicts are soreness of elbow joints, swelling of wrist and finger joints, loss of muscle control and painful hand muscles. In extreme cases where the injury to the muscles is repeated very often the tendons connecting the muscles to bones may tear off. These problems of repeated stress injury are not very common amongst kids and occur in rare cases.
It is said that prevention is better than cure. The child should be thoroughly made to understand the preventive measures to be taken to avoid occurrence of injuries while he is on the computer.
- The child should sit straight while working on the computer. Generally it will be noticed that the child leans on one side or the other. Leaning on side or on the keyboard causes unwanted stress on neck and back. The excessive and continuous stress on the back and neck area leads to spinal injury. If the sitting pose is not corrected the injury gets repeated resulting in RSI.
- The sitting pose should be such that there is no stress on the shoulders and legs. The best pose is sitting straight with hands on the computer table and legs placed comfortably with feet flat on the floor or footrest. This way the pressure on the spine will be at a minimum.
- The kid should be taught to try to use the keyboard without exerting a lot of pressure. Lightly touching the keyboard is the best practice, this way both the ligaments of hands and arms and keyboard is saved. 90 degree angle should be maintained between wrist and elbows with fingers in one level. Hammering the keyboard hard is a major cause of injury to the ligaments due to continuous stress.
- The child should not spend long continuous hours on the computer. He should rest at least once in thirty minutes, may be for a few minutes. It will be better if the child goes out for cycling for a few minutes after being on the computer for one hour or so.
- Stretching and yoga exercises are best options for getting a break from computer related stress. These will help relaxing not only the muscles but also eyes.
Above all a proper chair, table, adequate light in the room and adequately lighted computer monitor screen will go a long way in preventing stress related injuries to your child.