What can we do to prevent RSI pain in our children?
Provide children the skills to understand what is good for their bodies so they can make good choices for themselves.
Teach healthy computer habits which can be carried into adulthood.
Encourage physical activity. Children who exercised during breaks from computer use had fewer pain complaints then those who were sedentary.
Encourage healthy habits including drinking plenty of water for tissue hydration and eating a variety of nutritious foods.
Computer Comfort for Children
Chairs should be adjustable allowing for easy changes due to growth spurts or for a number of users varying in age and body size range.
The best chairs should have adjustability for chair seat height and depth. The back of the chair (providing lumbar support) should be able to be pushed forward. If the chair is not adjustable, use pillows or cushions to raise the child to the appropriate height.
The child should be able to be positioned so that his eyes are level with the top of the monitor screen. The monitor should be placed directly in front of the child at about an arm’s distance away (about 12-14 inches) to prevent eye and neck strain.
Feet should be fully supported on a foot rest, sturdy box, or stack of stable books with hips, knees and ankles at about 90 degrees. There should be about 2 inches of clearance between the back of the child’s knee and the chair seat edge.
Type font should be large enough to be clearly visible to the child. The screen should be clean and the brightness and contrast adjusted for easiest reading.
Screen glare should be reduced by placing the computer perpendicular to windows, having good room and task lighting, and, if necessary, using an anti-glare screen.
The child should be taught to look away from the screen, blink rapidly, and then focus on objects in the distance after every 15 minutes of typing to ease eye strain.
Chair arm rests should be lowered or removed so that child’s arms are loosely held at the side of the body, elbows bent at about 90 degrees, and the shoulders relaxed.
The child should not have to reach forward to either the keyboard or the mouse.
Wrists should be flat and straight (in the neutral position) with fingers relaxed.
The child should be instructed to use the lightest touch possible to activate the keyboard.
The child should be educated to sit square and not to twist, slouch or crouch in the chair while typing.
A typing break of 5-10 minutes should be encouraged for every 30-40 minutes of typing. Preferably the break activity should be active. A timer can be used to help the child learn to monitor himself.
This is part 2 of a 2-part series.
Part 1 describes the risk factors for RSIs in children.
For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.
Smaller sized keyboards and mice are available for those children having difficulty using adult-sized equipment.
Check out these mice designed specifically for smaller hands -
Some kid-sized keyboards -
And a child-sized desk -