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February 11, 2011 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Technology Gives Rise to New Ailments

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

Technology is forever moving forward, and us with it. Unfortunately, the human body was not designed for some of the repetitive movements required to use the highly advanced cell phones and other technological toys that are common today. From 1873 to 1950, tennis elbow was the most common ailment caused by a recreational activity. Today tennis elbow has been overtaken by cell phone elbow and Blackberry thumb. Tennis elbow primarily strikes individuals aged 35 to 55, but cell phone injuries are showing up across the board. Some of the most common ailments physicians and chiropractors are beginning to see rises in include elbow, thumb and wrist pain, which can often be caused from extensive cell phone, computer or handheld device usage. Human fingers hold up well to repetitive motions, but thumbs do not, and many forms of texting and gaming are performed with fast, efficient thumb action. According to the Mayo Clinic, carpal tunnel, too, is on the rise. While this injury cannot be blamed entirely on the technological world, the repetitive movements needed when using cell phones, computers and handheld games certainly have contributed to the problem.

Tech-Savvy World

We live in a tech-savvy world and just about everyone has a cell phone. If you have a phone you probably talk on it while driving, a habit that can lead to more extensive injuries, even death. Let's face it - no one can drive competently while text messaging, talking on the phone, viewing photos on the phone or reading a text message someone else just sent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 30 percent of all accidents are caused when drivers become distracted. Because such accidents are becoming more prominent, some physicians are doing their best to educate patients regarding reckless cell phone use. They may have heart to heart talks with their patients, and ask them to fill out questionnaires regarding how they use their phones, and if they use their phone while driving, or use an iPod while driving. Mike Sevilla, MD, who has a family practice in Ohio says, "I talk about listening to loud music and being distracted while driving. I bring up those examples of people who were hurt or killed because they could not disconnect themselves from their cell phone." To combat the problem of vehicular accidents due to cell phone usage, some states have begun setting regulations that include banning cell phone usage, including text messaging, while driving.

Ailments and Debilitating Disease

Vision and hearing problems are also on the rise. Loud noise such as that experienced at a concert goes away after a while, but when the eardrum is exposed to constant loud noise, the eardrum can be damaged permanently. While cell phones are not high on the list of loud noise gadgets, iPods are right at the top. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, there is not enough information available yet to determine if cell phone usage can cause brain cancer, but that it is not good anytime significant radio frequency emissions are experienced to the head. While he does not advocate getting rid of cell phones, he does suggest that children, whose skulls are thinner, should avoid holding a cell phone to their ear. Some methods for children to use that will prevent overexposure of radio radiation to the brain include:

  • staying off the phone when the signal is poor
  • using headsets when possible
  • texting rather than pressing a cell phone to your ear
  • avoiding more than 20 minutes of iPod noise at a time
  • turning the volume down (No one else in the room should be able to hear your iPod when you have earphones on.)


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