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SMS culture damaging for children?
August 25, 2005
SMS technology may have revolutionised the world of communication but it has its flip side too.
Children who regularly send SMSs to friends on mobile phones are at the risk of developing Repetitive Strain Injury, according to health experts.
"The thumb is not a very dextrous digit. It is good at grasping but not good for repetitive movement. RSI symptoms include tingling, numbness, weakness, loss of movement, muscle spasm and shooting pains, " says Bronwyn Clifford, of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics, London.
Using just a thumb to type could cause pain and swelling in the tendons and possibly long-term injury.
As mobile phones get smaller and with more children acquiring them, they are at risk of a condition more often linked to desk-bound adults, reports the Telegraph.
The Indian perspective
"All fingers have two joints but the thumb has only one joint. So, the pressure gets concentrated on this one joint when the child is engaged in texting continuously. Thus, most of the traumas happen to this joint that is most mobile and the most vulnerable part of the thumb, " says Dr Amar Mallick, a practicing physiotherapist in Mumbai.
Repetitive movement can also render the epiphysis plate of the thumb (which is responsible for developing joints and joint movements), at risk. If injured it can cause trauma to the cartilage thus leading to the development of small aches and pains.
" It is not just the thumb but the whole hand that can get affected because the wrist, the fingers and thumb all work in close synergy. Excessive texting can strain any one of the above components and lead to tendon injuries, trigger thumb or trigger finger, " says Dr Shreyasi S Jadhav, a physiotherapist at Talwalkars gym, Mumbai.
" However, these injuries are more likely to happen to children with a deficient diet plan as compared to an active and a healthy child, " she adds.
Prevention is better than cure
Texting besides leading to obvious damage can also affect the fine movement of the thumb and fingers on a long-term basis. For instance, children may not be able to paint or sketch with perfection or play a music instrument with ease or conduct any activity competently that requires extreme fine movement.
~ Monitor the frequency of texting and playing of mobile games by your children. Prevent excessive use of the mobile phone.
~ Teach your child the different positions in which s/he can hold the phone, to ease the pressure on the thumb.
~ Watch out for symptoms like tendon injuries, swollen thumbs, and restricted hand movement. If you spot them then immediately stop your children from texting.
~ Ice and heat provide temporary relief for tendon and limb injuries and swelling. In the meantime, seek medical help.
i. The thumb needs to be bandaged in its extended position and kept warm and protected.
ii. For children above 12, any form of superficial heat like wax and ultrasonic therapies can be used.
iii. For children below 12, splinting and bracing -- a method of bandaging with the support of a thin metal sheet while the thumb is kept in a functional position -- for a couple of days and treating the affected area with ice are recommended.
With inputs from ANI and Juhi Dua.