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22 February 2006



humbs? And why do they need saving? Text messaging, once seen as a way to send a short message without running up the expense of a cell-phone call, has become so popular that it poses its own public-health problem: sore thumbs.

I know I usually write about some kind of dribble on here, but today's message is about your health. Tired of worrying about Iraq? The whole Port system fiasco? Then stop and worry about something much more personal... yes, your thumbs.

93 million text messages are sent every day in the U.K. One estimate for the United States, whose population is five times as large, is 700 million text messages a year. These have translated into a reported 3.8 million cases of "repetitive strain injuries per year" in Great Britain alone.

12 percent has admitted to sending up to 20 text messages a day. Ten percent said they sent more, up to 100 messages a day. That adds up.

So how come I don't get any?

Dr. Matthew Bennett of the British Chiropractic Association warns that when people lean over their tiny keypads typing intently, "the tendency is to keep your shoulders and upper arms tense. This cuts down the circulation to the forearm, when in fact it needs a greater than normal blood flow to achieve the consistent movements of the thumbs and fingers."

You can protect against repetitive stress injuries as they text:

If your forearms and hands start to hurt, stop.
Switch hands.
Make a call instead.
Don't always use the same fingers to type.
Take breaks. It's harmful to type on a BlackBerry or cell phone for more than a few minutes.
Do simple exercises, such as using your thumb to tap against each finger on that hand, and stretching your fingers, perhaps putting a rubber band around them for resistance.

Observations and Questions
I was going to write another piece on the port situation but decided to write about something more important today.

Birth Announcements and Dusty Death Notices
Born this day in 1862, Connie Mack baseball manager (Philadelphia A's 1900-1950). And in the death notices today we find in 1998, Sandy Hume, correspondent (Fox News), commits suicide at 28.
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