Survey: Chiropractors seeing spate of injuries from at home workers
Even though it’s obviously convenient, working from home is apparently fraught with a few health issues. The New York Times reports that for some reason, chiropractors are reporting a whole spate of cases from at home workers. Why is this happening? Mercer Island MD Dr. Gordon Cohen joined Seattle’s Morning News to discuss.
“Yeah, there’s a pandemic of work from home injuries. This was actually a survey, it wasn’t an actual scientific study. There was a Facebook study done in April by the American Chiropractic Association … 92% of chiropractors said that patients were reporting more neck pain, back pain and other musculoskeletal injuries since the stay-at-home orders began,” he said.
“For the past couple of decades, there’s been tons of work and research and effort put into having more ergonomic office spaces. All the designs of computer keyboards and mouses and the way that desks are organized now are all around ergonomics for good body postures, so that you can have less work-related injuries and less repetitive use injuries. So when offices closed and people were suddenly staying at home, all those ergonomics disappeared. People are sitting on couches, people are sitting in wicker chairs, people are sitting on their bed, and yet they’re still working.”
Additionally, as still and motionless as offices can be, there’s often even less movement for at-home workers with the lack of meetings and the excuses we find to get away from our desks.
“When you’re at the office, you just do more moving around where people are now just sitting around. And so they have a bad workplace environment, they haven’t set it up correctly, and are often just looking at laptops. The problem with laptops is that they’re never really quite positioned right. You’re looking down at them, or they’re too close to your chest when you’re working on them, or you’re reaching up because they’re on a table top of something,” he said.
As it turns out, similar issues are occurring in younger generations as well.
“What’s even more remarkable is it’s not just adults, but they’re seeing it in kids as well. And if you think about it, young kids were already prone to be on their screens a lot, and we’ve taken away everything that’s good for them in terms of their movements. So they’re not doing sports anymore, they no longer have PE, or recess when they’re out running around — all that stuff is gone,” he said.
Some home office recommendations
Many didn’t expect to be working from home for this long, and for some, they may be doing so for up to a year or longer. So what are some recommendations to offset this?
“One is to create your own home-work space. Buy an appropriate desk, buy an appropriate chair, create the appropriate set up with computer screens at eye level, and have the keyboard at the appropriate level to type on. Secondly, people need to be able to get up and move, and they need to plan it out … So they need not just be sitting there all day, even if they have a great ergonomic set up, they need to be walking around and doing other activities so that they’re getting movement that they would otherwise be getting in office,” he said.
“Thirdly, they need to look out for their kids and make sure that their kids are doing the same thing, that their kids are also set up appropriately, that their kids are getting appropriate physical activity so that they’re just not sitting around looking at screens all day long because they have no other choice, and they start to develop significant problems at an early age. So I think those are really the recommendations that need to be followed in order to avoid this.”
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