Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Put An End To 'BlackBerry Thumb'

see the video


HealthWatch: Put An End To 'BlackBerry Thumb'
While Americans Relish Being High-Tech & Connected, They Often Suffer Debilitating Hand Injuries
Reporting
Dr. Holly Phillips NEW YORK (CBS) ― Staying connected has never been easier. At every turn, people are typing away on their high-tech hand devices.

But at what cost?

CBS 2 HD has what you need to know about the injuries users are suffering and how doctors are treating them.

Like many New Yorkers on the go, Tina Tsapovsai relies on her BlackBerry all day.

"Texting my husband, my friends, going online … checking my email," Tsapovsai said.

When asked just how much time per day she spends pounding away on the miniature keyboard, Tsapovsai said, "Probably about … five hours or so."

And eventually she started to experience pain.

"Tenderness in my wrist," Tsapovsai said. "I really didn't have full motion in my hand."

Steven Shoshany is a chiropractor who sees these high-tech hand injuries all the time.

"People need to be talking to the job 24-7," Dr. Shoshany said. "People have a social life."

Doctors say the so-called "BlackBerry thumb" refers to injuries that result from hours on personal digital assistants (PDAs) like the BlackBerry and palm device, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and pain in the palm of the hand.

"They have limited range of motion where they can't open or close their wrist comfortably," Dr. Shoshany said.

Unlike a regular keyboard, where the work is divided across all 10 fingers, BlackBerry users tend to only type with their thumbs. So overuse injuries can happen quickly.

But they can also be avoided.

* Don't type more than three minutes continuously

* Stretch your arms, shoulders and hands

* Place device on hard surface or lap. That takes the strain off the wrists.

Shoshany uses cold laser therapy and muscle-smoothing remedies like the Graston technique to treat the pain. And he also prescribes exercises for prevention.

"Basically just stretching my thumb out (begins to demonstrate stretch) that way (bends wrist) pulling it down this way," Tsapovsai said.

And of course, Tsapovsai tries her best to do what we all find so difficult.

"Obviously taking a little break from the BlackBerry," she said.

The most severe symptoms of these high-tech hand injuries may require treatment with cortisone shots or a splint.

But before you get there, the best advice may be to power off, disconnect and take a break.

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