An expensive phone bill is not the only pain caused by texting. Fervent texters also have to watch out for strained thumbs and other injured body parts, health experts said.
As the thumbs of GW students flicker across their Blackberrys, flip phones and iPhones, two problems can occur. First, rather than looking both ways before crossing the street, the phone garners all the attention. Secondly, all that fervent texting can cause repetitive strain injury.
The American College of Emergency Physicians released a warning this summer about the danger of serious accidents involving oblivious texters. According to the warning, doctors across the country have treated an increasing number of patients for injuries involving texting. Most injuries involved scrapes, cuts and sprains from texters who tripped over curbs or walked into walls.
A serious accident in Los Angeles exemplifies the dangers of multi-tasking while texting. Earlier this month, a Metrolink commuter train collided with a Union Pacific Freight on the same track, killing 25 people and injuring 140. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating whether the Metrolink engineer missed a track signal because he was texting.
But Susan Haney, associate director of Student Health Service, said that average students are more likely to suffer from repetitive strain injuries than getting an injury from tripping or being hit by a moving vehicle due to texting.
A repetitive strain injury occurs when a person makes repeated movements, in this case involving thumbs. WebMD states that these motions create “microscopic tears in the tissue” and when the tears are unable to be repaired, “inflammation occurs, leading to pain.”
The only healing method for this is icing them and giving them a rest from all activity. That means cutting back on the texts, which can be somewhat difficult to do in everyday life.
As of now, neither GW Hospital nor Student Health Service has reported any on-campus injuries due to text messaging. But for safety measures, try to look up when walking, and give your thumbs a rest.