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Overuse of iPads blamed for students' neck and shoulder pain

2013-12-20 09:54 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

Academic pressure and long hours spent on iPads are the reasons behind a shocking 41.1 percent of high school students suffering from neck and shoulder pain, experts revealed Thursday.

Doctors from Shanghai No. 1 People's Hospital conducted a big-sample epidemiological research to study the prevalence of teenager's neck and shoulder pain and relevant risk factors. The study collected questionnaires from 2,842 students from 30 high schools in Shanghai. The result was published in the professional medical journal Spine.

"Neck and spine pain can impact life quality and cause further damage to spine in the future," said Dr Zhao Qinghua, leading expert of the study. "We also want to give more guidance to teenagers to help them ease neck and spine pain through this study."

Zhao said he sees over 10 university students for neck and shoulder pain every day while working at the hospital's branch near a college town.

Compared to watching TV and playing computer games, experts found long-term use of iPad can do more damage to the neck and shoulder.

"Because people only use one hand while using iPad and lie on the bed instead of sitting proper on a chair, which is bad for the spine," Zhao said.

The study found using iPad for over 1.5 hours per day or facing a screen six to 10 hours per week is highly risky.

Strong academic pressure is another cause for spine problems, and students in the last year of high school are more prone to shoulder pain as they spend long hours preparing for the college entrance examination.

"Data showed that students with less academic stress have lower prevalence of neck and shoulder pain than other students," Zhao said. "In the Netherlands, only 11.5 percent of teenagers have neck and shoulder pain."

Psychological stress, sports injury, improper height of desk, family history, lack of sleep and smoking all contribute to neck and shoulder problems.

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