Nowadays computer is one of the most indispensable consumer products that has made significant leaps. Computer has become a necessity and to some extent brings convenience, efficiency and entertainment to our lives. Couple of decades ago, only 4% of people considered computer a necessity. This number has increased exponentially to more than 51%. Most of us use computers at work, school and even at home. We have accustomed ourselves to this technology so well that, it is hard to even imagine and return back to our old lifestyle, wherein computer did not exist. Computer on one hand has made our life easier but on the other hand computer has been associated with various health issues. These health issues can be broadly divided into chronic and acute health problems
- Computer related vision problem: eyestrain, blurred or double vision, headaches, red or irritated eyes, and color perception changes.
- Computer related posture problems: neck or shoulder tension, general fatigue or pain in the back, arms, wrists or shoulders. I think lower back pain is one of the most common problems in young IT professionals.
First time scientific community has reported studies revealing that the use of computer is also associated with some serious acute injuries. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio has collected data of acute computer related injuries for more than a decade; from 1994-2006. The data reveals that number of acute computer-related injuries have augmented by 732% i.e. from 1,300 to approximately 9,300 injuries per year which is more than double the increase in household computer ownership (309%). Let us take a closer look at the acute injuries related to computers:
What are the major acute computer related injuries?
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the most common acute computer-related injuries include:
- Lacerations (39%) – Laceration is an irregular open wound caused by blunt impact (such as corner of table) to soft tissue.
- Contusions and abrasions (23%) – Contusion is another name for a bruise, which is caused when blood vessels are damaged or broken as the result of a blow to the skin (be it bumping against something or hitting yourself with a hammer).
- Head injuries (75.8% for those aged <5 years and 61.8% for those aged 5 years)
Children younger than 5 years and adults 60 years and more are having the highest injury rate of...
all age groups.
How many patients have been injured so far?
National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database has shown that more than 78,000 cases of acute computer-related injuries were treated in US from 1994 through 2006. Approximately 93 percent of injuries occurred at home.
Studies revealed that most common cause of acute computer related injuries are
- Hitting or getting caught on a part of the computer (37%)
- Tripping or falling on computer equipment (43.4%)
- Falling of computer equipment on top of the patient (21%)
However, the leading cause of injury for both was tripping or falling on computer equipment.
How can we prevent ourselves from computer related injuries?
Parents must take safety measures to make their computer areas and home offices safe to avoid acute computer-related injuries. Following are some general recommendations:
- Place the computer station away from walkways and against a wall
- organize and secure wirings and cords, so that it is out of the way
- keep computer away from the edges of desks and out of reach of young children
- install safety covers on unused electrical outlets
- allow young children to use computers with adult supervision
- keep kid’s play area separate from the computer workstation
I do not believe that I am re-inventing the wheel by mentioning the caution tips. Most of us are well aware of such conditions and safety precautions but the question is; do we follow above mentioned safety steps to protect our family members from such mishaps? I think data is self-evident that most of us do not! Statistics show that 78,000 peoples were admitted in hospital within last 10-12 years due to the acute computer-related injuries. It is worth noticing that the data was collected from hospital’s emergency departments. There would be much more cases of injured people who have not gone to their family doctor or walk to a clinic. Little precaution can reduce the risk and help you to protect from such careless but dangerous injuries. Like everything else, computers also come with a health warning and it is important that we recognize it.