Hands and Handheld Devices

This year for Hand Therapy Week 2018 (June 4-10th), we promoted The American Society of Hand Therapist’s (ASHT’s) guidelines for healthy handheld device usage to prevent upper extremity injury.

As handheld and other computerized devices such as cellphones, laptops, tablets, and digital media players take over the world, we find our society in a “T-Rex arm” type position more often than not. The lack of changing of position, accompanied by repetitive movement (scrolling, texting, etc.) on unsupported surfaces can cause damage to our arms, wrists and hands.

Hand injures such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and other ailments occur often when there is evidence of heavy handheld device usage.

That is why, in promotion of Hand Therapy week 2018 , the Certified Hand Therapists (CHTs) of Tidewater Physical Therapy wanted to share the American Society of Hand Therapist’s (ASHT’s) guidelines for healthy handheld device usage to prevent upper extremity damage or injury.

ASHT states, “Many handheld electronics users spend hours on these small electronics every day, responding to e-mails and spooling through music lists and address books.  These devices are immensely popular and they are getting smaller with even more features which encourage heavy, extended use.  More of the population could suffer hand ailments unless they learn to take preventive measures.”

Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Certified Hand Therapists, Jennifer S. Hamilton, DPT, CHT, William Hamilton, Jr., DPT, CHT, and Craig L. Joachimowski, PT, OCS, CHT advise using ASHT’s guidelines for improved use of handheld electronics in order to avoid injury:

  • If you have pain during the activity, stop.  Pain is one of the ways your body is letting you know that you are overextending a particular muscle group.
  • Use a neutral grip when holding the device.  A neutral grip is when the wrist is straight, not bent in either direction (not strong or weak).  It will allow for wrist motion in a plane where more motion is available in the wrist.
  • Take a break every few minutes or switch to another activity. Overuse of repetitive motions, such as pressing buttons, can cause tendonitis of the elbow or lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (tendon or nerve irritation).
  • If possible, place pillows in your lap and rest arms on pillows or use the device supported on a desk or tabletop.  This will allow you to keep your head in a more upright position and therefore decrease neck strain.  The pillows or desk will help support the arms so they do not have to be held up in the air.
  • Sitin an appropriate chair.  This is a chair that allows you to put your feet comfortably on the floor and also provides good back support.
  • Switch hands frequentlyand vary the use of fingers/ digits   This will allow the one hand or other fingers/digits to rest and reduce fatigue.
  • Frequently look away from the screen and focus on a distant objectto help reduce eye fatigue.

With technology everchanging and growing, Tidewater Physical Therapy would like you to remember these tips the next time your pick up for phone, tablet or other handheld device.


What is Hand Therapy Week?

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