Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs): Hazardous To Your Health

Mae : Wireless Mobility Blog
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Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs): Hazardous To Your Health

Turns out that PDAs can be hazardous to your health. Who knew?

USA Today reporter Stephanie Armour wrote in an article today that, increasingly, companies are facing workers’ compensation claims from employees claiming they were injured by PDAs.

Okay, it’s true that PDAs don’t literally bite the hand that feeds them, but excessive use of such a device can lead to hand injuries—much as the repetitive stress associated with use of keyboards and mice can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome.

There’s even a name for PDA-related hand injuries: BlackBerry Thumb.

The USA Today report cites the American Physical Therapy Association as saying that BlackBerry Thumb is characterized by “hand throbbing, tendonitis and swelling.”

Armour quotes Cornell University ergonomics professor Alan Hedge saying, “If you develop full-blown symptoms, it’s pretty severe. Employers can train people how to correctly hold and use the handheld device and encourage employees to write brief e-mails.”

I’m skeptical about the idea that people might cut down on their PDA usage, but maybe it is possible to hold the devices in ways that aren’t quite so damaging. (Just as an ergonomic keyboard is better than a regular one.)

Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Frank Morris is quoted in the USA Today article as saying that, to protect themselves, employers should develop policies for PDA policies.

Part of the problem is that employees are simply using PDAs too much, the article quoted Stacey Devon, president-elect of American Society of Hand Therapists, as saying.

“In the workplace, you should dock them into a regular-size keyboard and monitor,” Devon says in the report.

So what should we learn from all this, beyond the fact that excessive use of any device can be dangerous? Well, I for one feel a lot more enlightened to know that a) it is possible to be a professor of ergonomics and b) there is an organization called American Society of Hand Therapists.

Here’s my question to you: do you use a PDA? And, have you suffered hand injuries from using it? I’m curious how widespread this problem is.

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1 Comment

I don't think it's a widespread problem – I have never even so much as experienced any pain using my PDA, and of the many people I know, no one has even remotely complained. The people who are getting injuries must be sending text messages and emails out every minute or something. This is the first time I've ever heard of this.
True, I have never experienced any problems with my keyboard either – or playing guitar (Similar things happen to musicians) but I do think that the PDA is a far less dangerous item than those!