Protect Hands from Digital Distress – Handout from Advance for OT


Are you or your clients feeling the effects of abuse from use of electronic devices in their hands, arms or fingers?

Check out this article from Advance for OT “Protect Hands from Digital Distress“, by Cheryl McEvoy, providing tips and exercises to counter the effects of abusive texting and use of electronic devices.


Information in the handout comes from the American Society of Hand Therapists’ National Consumer Education Alert on Heavy Use of Handheld Electronic Devices.  In their position paper they provide a few additional tips relating to the use or abuse of handheld electronic devices:

ASHT released professionally designed guidelines to foster healthier use of handheld electronics and portable devices:

  • If  you have pain during the activity, stop. Pain is one of  the ways your body is letting you know that you are overextending a particular muscle group.
  • Use a neutral grip when holding the device. A neutral grip is when the wrist is  straight, not bent in either direction (not strong or weak). It will allow for wrist motion in a plane where more motion is available in the wrist.
  • Take a break every few minutes or switch to another activity. Overuse of repetitive motions, such as pressing buttons, can cause  tendonitis of the elbow or lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (tendon or nerve  irritation).
  • If possible, place pillows in your lap and rest arms on pillows or use the device supported on a desk or tabletop. This will allow you to keep your head in a more upright position and therefore decrease neck strain. The pillows or desk will help support the arms so they do not have to be held up in the air.
  • Sit in an appropriate chair. This is a chair that allows you to put your feet comfortably on the floor and also provides good back support.
  • Switch hands frequently and vary the use of fingers/ digits. This will allow the one hand or other fingers/digits to rest and reduce fatigue.
  • Frequently look away from the screen and focus on a distant object to help reduce eye fatigue.

Retrieved on November 3, 2013 from:

Advance for OT is a free subscription service and provides  a monthly electronic and hardcopy magazine for Occupational Therapists. For years I have enjoyed the articles and  information it provides as a professional source of information (for free).

About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
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