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Employees using smartphones, tablets may face new injuries

As Colorado employers become increasingly "high tech," more employees will start carrying smartphones and tablets for their jobs. While these devices may make computing and communications easier and more convenient, there has been a new report documenting repetitive strain injuries caused by using this new technology.

Denver employees who use smartphones for work may have noticed a type of neck strain that some health officials are calling "text neck." This type of neck injury can be caused by repeatedly leaning the head forward to look at the small screen on a phone or at its miniature keypad, for example. As an employee holds his or her head forward, his or her head will cause a strain of 40 to 48 pounds on the neck. The average human head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, but only when it is held in the ideal position, which is to have the head in line with the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.

While text neck may not seem like a serious neck injury, anyone who develops the condition as part of his or her employment may be able to file a workers' compensation claim. Relatively minor neck strains can sometimes develop into something more serious and prevent a person's ability to work. It is important to both seek out a physician and a workers' compensation attorney early in order to start the workers' compensation process.

It seems text neck is not the only repetitive strain injury that Colorado employees may be experiencing. Medical professionals in the United Kingdom have also documented thumb injuries that can be traced back to texting. "Text thumb" can present itself as inflamed tendons in the thumb to pain in the hands and arms.

Source: New York Daily News, "Smartphones cause users to suffer aching pains," Dec. 5, 2011

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