Tuesday, January 18, 2022

‘Text neck’ epidemic spreads

A recent article from the Washington Post suggests that the angle a person holds his or her head while texting can cause a condition called “text neck.” According to a CNN interview with Tom DiAngelis, the president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Private Practice Section, this condition can lead to problems such as pinched nerves, herniated disks and can also take away the natural curve of one’s neck.

With nearly 65 percent of American adults using a smartphone as of October 2014, many people may become affected in the future.

The article states that the angle that one typically looks at their phone can determine the severity of neck injuries, as it adds extraneous, and oftentimes harmful, weight.

“At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds,” Washington Post writer Lindsey Bever wrote.

Plattsburgh State Psychology major Shelby Norris said she uses her phone throughout the day.

“Honestly, I use it a good portion of the day. When I first get up, I check it,” Norris said. “I can’t do my homework because I’m usually distracted by the phone. I can’t sleep because I’m on the phone an hour before I’m supposed to go to sleep. It takes up a good amount of time from my day.”

Although she said she felt the numbers in the study were a little exaggerated, she could see the connection between constantly using one’s phone and poor posture or neck problems.

While PSUC social work major Catharine Weiss said she is not big into texting, she still uses her phone fairly often to communicate with friends and family and check her school accounts.

“Without it, I’d probably be completely lost,” Weiss said.

After learning about the Washington Post study, Weiss said the numbers didn’t seem high at all.

“They seem just about right, because when I’m leaning over texting, I can sometimes feel strain in my neck,” she said. “If I’m constantly doing homework, I can feel a little tired — I have to stretch, move my neck around.”

However, PSUC communications disorders major Jessica Penello disagreed with the study.

“When I’m texting, I’ve never had a problem with neck strain. To be honest, it sounds a little far-fetched because our necks are meant to move — that’s why they have mobility,” Penello said. “Obviously, bad posture will always give you some sort of aches and pains, but I don’t think people are having mass issues in texting.”

When Penello does text, she just uses the voice-to-text option.

“People have been hunched over their computers for a while now. I don’t think it’s anything more significant than just having bad posture,” Penello said.

As a nursing student at PSUC, Erica Carhart said she and her peers are constantly warned about the dangers of straining one’s neck or back, particularly doing heavy lifting in the hospital, transferring patients and bending over beds.

“Our necks are constantly strained daily — looking down at our computers, charts and phones,” Carhart said.

Carhart described her own posture as “awful,” saying, “It’s probably only going to get worse, not only from the heavy lifting at the hospital, but because of the daily wear and tear on my spine caused by the constant head-tilting while browsing the contents of my phone.”

Email Patrick Willisch at patrick.willisch@cardinalpointsonline.com

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