Tuesday, December 6

Digging Deeper: How technology affects the body | Top Stories

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)– As access to technology becomes more ingrained in our everyday lives, doctors say our bodies have begun to adapt to the increased usage.

From smart phones to smart homes, access to technology has become necessary for many careers.

But is it leaving a lasting impact on our bodies?

“We’re finding ourselves locked in forward postures for long periods of time,” said Dr. Scott Bautch, a chiropractor with Bautch Chiropractic.

Bautch has seen first-hand how his patient’s lives are impacted by everyday technology usage.

Bautch recalled seeing his young adult patients coming in with injuries and issues are normally seen in much older adults.

“Never even in my time in thirty years of practice (have) I seen necks in young people,” Bautch said. “I never saw before with degeneration that looks like they are seventy eight ninety years old sometimes.”

Doctor Bautch said he believes the issues stem from how way people look down at their cellphones.

He explains that the excess weight left on the neck and spine is affecting how the bones curve and function.

A 2021 study by the Pew Research Center found that 85% of people own a smart phone. That number jumped up to 96% for people between the age of 18 and 29.

“We think even twenty years ago, the amount of texts people sent were in the few a day,” Bautch said. “Now there is up to two- to three hundred a day kids are looking at.”

Aging is something everyone deals with – but Dr. Elizabeth Renaker-Jansen, a  plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said repeatedly looking down at screens can cause skin around the neck and eyes to age faster.

She says she’s noticing patients with the beginning signs of transverse lines on the neck.

“There is also a theory of tech neck is people are looking at their phones or are looking down, and they notice all of this fullness that starts to fill up to,” she said.

Medical treatments like Botox – or more personal ones like paying attention to one’s posture – can help slow down or prevent the wrinkles from growing deeper.

“Holding it more of a neutral position because when you are holding things at a neutral position, you are not staring all of your muscles especially your neck or your face,” Renaker-Jansen said.

Optometrist Lauren Leurquin explains that though vision isn’t necessarily impacted by advanced screen time – the quality and comfort of the eyeball can be.

Doctor Leurquin said its important to give you eyes a break whenever possible.

“Every 20 minutes that a 20 second break and look 20 feet away and that provides your eyes a chance to take a break,” Leurquin said.

And though technology is constantly advancing and continues to be necessary in most peoples lives – the body is telling everyone to slow down, take breaks and not to become too reliant.

“We have to think about exposure,” explained Bautch. “To recover. The longer the exposure, the longer the recovery. But we’re not getting recovery.” 

He recommends practicing stretching and mobility to keep the body moving throughout the day. 

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