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Tech-nitis: New “Overuse Injuries” From Too Much Personal Technology

It’s not surprising to people that I’m a “techy” type of guy. Reading tech stories about the latest gadgets is a nice occasional escape from work. One of the ways that medicine and tech intersect is in some “overuse injuries” that I’ve seen and talked with people about. When the Nintendo Wii first came out, there were many stories of “Wii-itis” and tendonitis-related injuries.

Last week American Medical News interviewed me for a story posted on their site [on September 27th] called “New Personal Technology Creating New Ailments.” The article opens like this:

When Mike Sevilla, MD, sees young patients at his Salem, Ohio, family practice, he often finds them text messaging or listening to music on portable media players. These tech-savvy patients may not realize it, but they could be on the way to developing health problems related to overuse of personal technology. That’s why Dr. Sevilla uses such exam room encounters as a springboard to talk about the potential health impact of today’s tech devices.

“I talk about listening to loud music and being distracted while driving. … I bring up those examples of people who were hurt or killed because they could not disconnect themselves from their cell phone,” he said. Dr. Sevilla and other physicians across the nation are adding questions about cell phone use and computer habits to the office visit at a time when dependence on electronic devices has reached unprecedented levels.

The article goes on to say that the most common physical problems that are seen include problems with vision, elbow, thumb, and wrist. These are due to prolonged use of computers and mobile devices like cell phones and electronic handheld devices. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Doctor Anonymous*

Texting While Driving: “It’s Like Everybody’s Drunk” Or Worse

A mentor recently mentioned in passing that he stopped riding motorcycle when cellphones came out, as he noticed the average driver distraction level had gone way up. He said, “It’s like everybody’s drunk.”

There’s lots of ways to be an impaired driver: Physical or mental fatigue, chemicals (legal and not), emotional extremes, etc. (This is not an exhaustive list). What I want to focus on here is a very controllable risk factor: Divided attention.

A quick Internet search turned up some original research from Car and Driver on the subject of texting while driving compared with actual alcohol-impaired driving, and the results are shockingly worse than I would have thought. From their (admittedly limited but well done) study, texting is way worse than being at the legal alcohol limit when it comes to both reading and writing. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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