Health Conditions associated with Problematic Technology Use
Are your health symptoms are related to your device?
General and excessive use of technology, video games, smart phones and the Internet is associated with a variety of health risks. Users run the risk of developing eThrombosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, mouse elbow, repetitive use injuries, eye fatigue, migraines, obesity, sleep disturbances, drowsy driving, sleep deprivation, backaches, eating irregularities, and poor personal hygiene.
eThrombosis (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
In 2003, Wired magazine ran a report on the risk of deep vein thrombosis after a 32-year old man who had been at his computer for hours suffered a “massive blood clot that caused him to black out.” Researchers in New Zealand termed the phrase eThrombosis to describe the condition and warned users to stand up, move around, and to limit long amounts of immobility while using the computer.
Musculoskelatal disorders (MSD) (Mouse Elbow and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
According to Malachy J. Foley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, “computer use is the principal cause of musculoskeletal disorder" (MSD). MSD is a group of medical conditions that consist of an injury to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, spinal discs, cartilage, blood vessels or related soft tissue that is caused or aggravated by physical tasks.” In examining the problem, Foley contacted the North Carolina Department of Labor who claims that “MSD is ‘the single highest cause of workplace illnesses and injuries and worker’s compensation claims in North Carolina.” Foley says “MSD is a serious and prevalent threat to a computer [users] health.”
Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
Also known as repetitive stress injury, repetitive motion injuries, repetitive motion disorder (RMD), cumulative trauma disorder (CT), occupational overuse syndrome. Repetitive strain injuries affect the musculoskeletal and nervous system and are generally caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained or awkward positions.
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) (Eye fatigue)
Research presented by the American Optometric Association indicates that “more than seventy percent of users that work on a computer monitor (which is over 140 million) experience computer vision syndrome (CVS) or eye fatigue. Prolonged computer use can result in eye strain and impact eyesight in kids as well as adults. Anyone that sits more than 2 hours on a daily basis on the computer is at risk of some degree of computer related eye fatigue."
There is a link between media use and obesity in technology users. Generally, the more hours spent in front of a screen, the greater the risk of obesity. Researchers find the health effects are similar, as electronic game playing is often a sedentary activity.
Sleep Deprivation and Drowsy Driving
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says the body’s need for sleep is so strong that the brain will attempt to make you sleep no matter what you are doing at the time.” Lack of sleep contributes to “sleep debt,” which accumulates over time. The effects of drowsiness are similar in nature to alcohol use. “Drowsiness can impair your ability to drive at a rate that is higher than the legal alcohol limit,” according to the organizations wellness booklet. Excessive sleepiness impacts focus and attention. “One study showed drivers awake for 15 or more hours had a four times the risk of having a drowsy driving crash. If a driver had been awake for 20 or more hours, the risk of crashing increases by 30 times.”
The “Drowsy Driving Act of 2005” is also known as “Rob’s Law” (see drowsy driving law summary) in memory of Major Robert M. Raneri, US Army Reserve, who was killed June 26, 2002 by a “drowsy driver”. Major Raneri was killed by a 19 year old male who confessed to police that he had been out all night playing video games. The death was treated as a misdemeanor because no drugs or alcohol was involved. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and loss of license for ten years. (Note: National Drowsy Driving Awareness week occurs each November in the United States.)
Neurological Brain Development Concerns
Scientists working at Tohoku University in Japan have discovered that computer games only stimulate those parts of the brain that are devoted to vision and movement, and do not aid the development of other important areas of the brain.
Photosensitive epileptic seizures (PSE)
A rare form of epilepsy known as photosensitive epileptic seizures (PSE) is triggered by visual stimuli that form patterns in time or space, such as flashing lights, bold, regular patterns, or regular moving patterns. A very small percentage of technology users may be sensitive to a variety of games or technologies that display rapidly flashing graphics.
Ergonomic Related Health Issues
View the latest research on computer use and the need for efficient use of technology
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- Mental Health Counselor
Tags: addiction, internet addiction, video games, device, sleep, ethrombosis, carpal tunnel, mouse elbow, repetitive use, eye fatigue, migraines, obesity, drowsy driving, sleep deprivation, backaches, eating irregularities, poor hygiene