The pervasiveness of technology in Singapore has led to the rise of a new phenomenon called ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome — a repetitive strain injury caused by prolonged forward head posture when users engage in their mobile devices.
With an innocent 30-degree forward head tilt, a person could be applying over 18 kg of stress on his or her spine. This causes wear and tear and may lead to spinal complications developing over time. As there is little to no immediate detection of damaged muscles or joints, serious health issues could go unnoticed.
“Poor posture caused by the constant forward head posture while using mobile devices may lead to neck strains and degenerative changes to the cervical spine,” said Mr. Jeff Lim, Senior Physiotherapist at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).
According to a survey conducted by a group of undergraduate students from NTU, 87% of young adults spend three or more hours a day on their mobile devices, and about 60% of respondents experience neck and back pains after using their mobile devices. In addition, there is currently a very low level of awareness and knowledge on ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome and its detrimental effects, with only 11% of respondents knowing what the syndrome actually is.
Dr. Terrence Yap, Vice-President of The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) also noted that not only has there been an increase in posture problems due to the use of mobile devices, but chronic neck-and-back symptoms that people used to experience at aged 60 and above are now starting to affect people as early as 30 to 40 years old.
In light of this rising health issue in Singapore, a group of four final-year students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University has embarked on a health communication campaign, ‘Stand Corrected’, to raise awareness and educate young adults on ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome.
“Hopefully, initiatives such as ‘Stand Corrected’ will particularly appeal to teenagers and young adults so that they can adopt good posture habits now to prevent health problems later in life after decades of hand-held device use,” said Mr. Lim.
Mr. Dannie Seet, 26, one of the students leading ‘Stand Corrected’, said: “I am personally a victim of ‘Text Neck’ and many of my friends are too. It is worrying that many Singaporeans are unaware of the damage they are doing to their spines. Our team hopes that more Singaporeans will be mindful of their postures and learn to care for their spinal health.”
The campaign is supported by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) and sponsored by National Youth Council (NYC), Ergoworks and Central Singapore Development Council (CDC).
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