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'Blackberry Thumb' Causing Digital Distress

Armen Hareyan's picture

Blackberry and Health

For millions of Americans, hand-held electronic devices such as BlackBerries, Treos, and Sidekicks are a source of convenience and efficiency. But, if used improperly, they can also be a source of chronic pain and injury, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

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"BlackBerry Thumb," the latest in a string of techno-related, workplace maladies, is a catch-all phrase for repetitive stress injury, causing pain and/or numbness in the thumbs and joints of the hand," says Margot Miller, PT, a physical therapist with WorkWell Systems and president of APTA's Occupational Health Special Interest Group. Miller notes that the condition is caused by spending too much time checking and composing e-mails, instant messaging, and accessing the Internet for both work and personal use through a handheld wireless personal digital assistant (PDA).

"The use of PDAs is no longer limited to the eight hours spent in the workplace," observes Miller. "More and more, people are depending on these devices to stay in touch with friends and family before and after the work day and on the weekends, as well as having access to work when they leave the office; that is where the heart of the problem lies."

Miller points out that users who abuse their PDAs