Background Laptops are commonly used for school work in addition to everyday activities by children. Data regarding wrist pain that may be caused by increased use of these devices do not exist, especially in young children.
Objectives To evaluate the possible association of laptop use, age of children and hours use may have with wrist pain.
Methods 13-16 year olds attending John Burroughs School, Saint Louis, MO, were administered a questionnaire asking about laptop use at school and at home, use of external mouse and durations of use. Wrist pain as reported on a 10cm VAS. Summary statistics of use and pain levels were estimated. Multivariable generalized linear models assuming a skewed distribution for the pain score (beta regression) were estimated associating laptop use, age, gender, hours used, use of exterior mouse and wrist support to pain.
Results 307 children completed the survey (mean age 14.5±1.2 years, 171 were female (55%). 19% reported using a laptop < 1 hours for school work, 54% used 1-3 hours, 18% 3-5 hours and 9% reported an average of > 5 hours of laptop usage per week. Younger respondents were more likely to report more pain than older respondent; each year of younger age was independently associated with increased odds of reporting pain (average OR=1.8, 95% CI: 1.3, 2.5). Increased laptop usage and mouse usage were independently associated with increased odds of pain reporting as well; on average, the odds of reporting pain increased 160% as laptop usage increased (OR=2.6, 95% CI: 1.8, 3.7), while using an external mouse was associated with doubling of the odds of reporting pain (OR=2.1, 95% CI: 1.2, 3.8). Wrist support was not protective; and gender was not associated with pain. A sensitivity analysis (not shown) was done excluding pain scores larger than 2. While the association between ages and reported pain was muted, increased usage and mouse usage were still associated with increased odds of pain.
Conclusions Duration of laptop and external mouse usage are associated with increased self-report wrist pain. Younger adolescents may be more susceptible. As with all repetitive motion activities, care should be used in monitoring prolonged exposure.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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