Ergonomic Articles

Children’s Ergonomics is vital - here’s why!

By Jana Zuidema (Bsc Physio) | Added 2015-07-27

If you thought back pain was something only adults suffer from, think again! Because of the modern digital age of TV consumption, computers, tablets, and gaming the injuries and pain caused from poor posture is no longer just a workplace issue. Physiotherapists and paediatricians tell us that back pain in children is on the rise and to fight this epidemic it’s important to understand ergonomics. Here is why:

Computer use has become almost mandatory for school work, whether it's typing a report or doing research and after sitting in school all day, kids are now doing homework in front of their computers. Like adults who have MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) from computerized businesses, if you ignore ergonomics, persistent pain and back problems can increase.

However these posture problems can be fixed by making small ergonomic changes to desk, computers, chairs and other furnishings to help prevent problems before they start. The difference between adults and children is when adults leave the workplace, they are able to do stretches, activities and other things to help relax and alleviate pain. Whereas children now spend hours and hours of recreation time playing games, being online or watching TV without any preventative breaks. Add to this that school desks are standard and do not cater to the size of each child, children today are sitting for most of their day in poor postures that not only cause discomfort but also pain and injury.

Health Care workers, doctors and parents are concerned and there is a lot of reason to be. With bad ergonomics and the modern digital lifestyle, poor back health is on the rise. Couple this with poorly diagnosed muscle strain (RSI) and tissue damage can have long lasting effects when not treated correctly. Consider How a desk job puts pressure on your back, and now consider why these kinds of injuries are causing havoc for our children! These main concerns are:

1: Musculoskeletal Disorders: MSD originated from many years of poor posture and injury. The resulting pain in the back, neck and shoulders of a child can lead to chronic pain by adulthood if not prevented.

2: Bone Development: Our children’s generation is the first generation that is facing these types of injuries and therefore we have no way of knowing how badly our poor ergonomics is contributing to adult chronic pain. Children’s bones are still growing and calcifying until their late teens and poor posturing during this development could be highly detrimental.

3: Eyesight: Last but not least, vision problems that result for hours staring at computer and TV screens can lead to short sightedness and near sightedness and are straining children’s eyes at a much younger age than previous generations.

Understanding ergonomics and making fundamental changes at home is the first step to ensuring that you manage your child's comfort and back health. From correct workstation setup at home, to ensuring they have the right kid’s chair for homework and gaming, good experience and a healthier more active lifestyle can help prevent chronic pain in the future.

 
** References:
www.ajnr.org/content/31/5/787.full
http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/pains/problem.php

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