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How to Ergo-Safe Your Kids’ Summer Vacation

Monday, July 26, 2010
By Anne Kramer

Now that the kids are home from school, it’s time to think about how best to make the rest of their summer both enjoyable and safe. Depending on their gender and age, making your kids’ summer both fun and ergonomically-sound can mean any number of things. It’s generally best to look at how your child enjoys spending the majority of his/her time, what ergonomic hazard(s) these activities may pose, and how best to prevent them. has compiled a list of some of the most common summer activities which with repeated engagement can pose a threat of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). We’ve also suggested a few solutions to these problems. Consult the list to see if your child will be enjoying any of these activities this summer.

Surfing the Internet: Just as when you spend hours in front of a computer for work, your children can suffer from any number of ailments by using the computer for play for an extended period of time. The same hazards exist: eyestrain, neck injury, back pain, et al. Make sure your kids, regardless of their age are taking regular breaks (every 20-30 minutes), use proper sitting position (feet flat on the floor, back straight), and that the computer monitor is in an appropriate position/distance from their eyes.

Traveling By Car: With gas prices creeping ever-upward, more and more families are choosing to travel by car when taking summer vacations. While this may save some money in the short term, it puts passengers, including children, at risk for injury due to extended periods in the car.

Let’s face it; when you’re in the car for more than an hour, you may start to hear the dreaded “are we there yet?” With this restlessness comes the shifting of positions from the kids in the back seat, which (hopefully) leads to sleep. Unfortunately, the positions kids often find comfortable, are not the best for their bodies. To prevent injury from repeated assumption of your child’s favorite pretzel-like poses, gift them with some comfort and ergonomic health generating items such as a travel pillow, an inflatable footrest, or an inflatable back cushion. These products will go a long way toward ensuring your child assumes an ergonomically-sound position for the duration of your trip.

Playing Video Games: This activity can pose a number of hazards. First off, children, especially teenagers, almost never exercise proper posture when sitting in a couch for a few minutes, let alone the well over an hour many kids spend playing video games at one time. It’s not uncommon to see a child sunk deep into a couch with just their head resting on the back of the sofa, while the rest trails from the seat onto the floor. Secondly, the controls used when playing many popular video games are not very well designed from an ergonomic standpoint. They put incredible strain on the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, wrists, and forearms of the player when used for an extended period of time. Encourage your children not only to use proper posture when sitting on the couch, but also to take regular breaks playing video games. The characters won’t mind!

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