Posted by: ugleepen | May 9, 2017

Computer Use and Extremity Pain

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that almost 80% of all households have at least one computer, and well over half of employed adults work on a computer on the job.

Dozens of studies have evaluated musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders of the hands and arms in computer users, yet the long-term effects of numerous hours at the keyboard remain uncertain.

To determine the incidence of conditions developing from workplace computer use, over 600 recently hired employees who used computers at least 15 hours per week were asked to complete diaries on the hours they worked, hours they spent on the computer, and presence of symptoms in their necks, shoulders, hands, and arms for up to three years.

Researchers sought those with symptoms requiring medication or scoring high on a pain scale; the results of their study were published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Over 50% of the workers suffered from musculoskeletal symptoms in their first year at the new job. Almost one-third suffered a new onset of neck or shoulder symptoms, and a quarter of the individuals suffered new onset of symptoms in the arms or hands.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, one of the best-known conditions related to long-term keyboard use, was surprisingly one of the least likely disorders seen in this study – only 1% of the workers developed it.

Women and those over age 30 were most likely to exhibit symptoms from computer use.

If you spend many hours in front of a computer, either at work or at home, be sure to use the proper form and follow basic ergonomic guidelines to avoid injury:

  • Maintain an upright posture
  • Keep your keyboard even with or slightly below elbow level
  • Be sure your mouse and other devices are within easy reach
  • Be sure to get up and walk around regularly to stretch and get the blood flowing to your extremities.

This is Part 2 on the topic about Children’s Activities that Develop Handwriting Skills.

Before a child is ready to write, there are significant skills that must be accomplished from infancy through the preschool years.

Part 1 discussed fine motor skills. Part 2 will cover games and activities that support and promote visual motor development.

Practice of these skills and even the use of a light, comfortable, ergonomic pen, can increase a child’s printing and handwriting success.

Ocular Motor Control
This is how the eyes work together to follow and keep an object within your line of vision.

  • Flashlight fun: With your child on his/her back, shine the flashlight from left to right, top to bottom, and diagonally and have them follow the movement with their eyes.
  • Mazes: Search online or buy a maze activity book for your child to follow and find the correct path visually and with a writing instrument.
  • Seek and find books: Having your child search for images in hidden picture books. There are many books of this type available in bookstores.

Eye-hand Coordination
These activities involve accuracy in direction, placement and spatial awareness.

  • Catch: Play catch with your child. Start with a larger size and as their skills improve, work toward a smaller ball. A rubber “bumpy ball” works well.
  • Bean Bag Toss: Make a circle on the floor with a string, or use a hula hoop if it’s handy. Have your child stand up and toss bean bags into the circle. Gradually increase their distance.
  • Balloons: While standing, have your child keep the balloon afloat in the air by hitting it up with their hand.
  • Bowling: Practice hitting bowling pins with a ball using a plastic toy set. (Or, you can make your own with soda bottles and a small ball.)
  • Bubbles: Bubbles are great for infants. Allow their eyes to follow them as they float around.

Photo Credit

Posted by: ugleepen | April 10, 2017

Writing Challenges for Multiple Sclerosis Patients

We’ve talked a lot in various articles about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and arthritis, both problems that can adversely affect simple activities of every day living, such as picking up a pen and writing.

Another disease process that results in the same challenges is Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

About 400,000 people in the United States suffer from this debilitating disease. The definition of MS is:”a demyleninating disease that affects the central nervous system” (the brain and spinal cord nerves). What does this mean?

Myelin is what actually insulates the nervous system, and is what allows the nerves to transmit impulses – much like the covering of an electric wire. When it is intact, impulses travel along nerves quickly and efficiently, allowing us to perform rapid and smooth coordinated movements with ease. When this insulating myelin is lost, the ability of the body to perform coordinated movements is compromised.

It’s now generally accepted that MS is an “autoimmune disease” which is a situation when the body’s own immune system attacks itself. Although science has made great strides in understanding MS, what triggers it is still unknown.

The symptoms of MS that each individual experiences at any given time can vary. As the Multiple Sclerosis Association explains:

One person may experience abnormal fatigue and episodes of numbness and tingling. Another could have loss of balance and muscle coordination making walking difficult. Still another could have slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder problems

Do you notice a common thread, though? Symptoms such as episodes of numbness and tingling, loss of muscle coordination, tremors, and stiffness – all are problems that will manifest fairly frequently in the hand. MS patients can also experience weakness in the hand, and even pain.

One of the most important things for you, as an MS patient, to do is to continue living as normal a life as possible. And finding things that can help you manage is paramount. My UGLee Pen is one such managing tool. When you are having trouble grasping a writing utensil, switch to my pen – it holds on to you instead.

As one reviewer of my pen said, “I have MS and I have tried at least twenty pens, some of them very expensive. The UGLee Pen is the BEST! – and it’s inexpensive, too!”

Before a child is ready to write, there are significant skills that must be accomplished from infancy through the preschool years.

The following children’s activities support and promote the fine motor skills needed to ensure success when it comes to learning to write.

Joint Strength
Before the body is ready for fine motor activity, the joints of the body must be stable. When body stability has developed, the hands and fingers start working on movements that require dexterity and grasping. Try these hand exercises to strengthen the joints

  • Wheelbarrow: Have your child walk on his hands. Have him kneel on the ground, place his hands on the ground in front, palms flat. You lift up his legs up and push along as he puts one hand in front of the other to walk.
  • Crab Walk: Your child should sit down on the ground, hands behind him palms turned out. Then tell him to lift his bottom up while walking hands and feet backwards at the same time.
  • Wall push-ups: Have your child stand up, arms shoulder width apart, hands at chest height. Place the palms flat against the wall and do 10 push ups per set.
  • Monkey Bars: Supporting and pulling up his own weight on the playground monkey bars will also improve joint strength.

Fine Motor Exercises for Handwriting
Children will develop fine motor skills best if they work on a vertical surface, especially when the wrist is in extension (bent back in the direction of the hand). You can try these activities with paper on the wall, paint on an easel or a using a chalkboard.

  • Trace: With a large marker you draw a stick figure on the paper, or simple line drawing of your choice. Have your child trace over your drawing up to 10 times trying left to right and top to bottom. Then have the child draw the figure next to your model several times. For more complex drawings, try tracing paper laid over the image and repeat exercise.
  • Connect the dots: You can draw dots on the paper in a random pattern. Ask the child to connect the dots from left to right, and from top to bottom.
  • Stencils: Have your child use their non-dominant hand to firmly hold the stencil on the paper. With their dominant hand they can draw around the edge of the stencil.

When your child is older and handwriting practice begins, start the lessons off right by using an ergonomic pen that is light and easy to grip with smooth ink, like the UGLee Pen. Be sure to check back to see Childrens Activites that Help Develop Handwriting Skills – Part 2 to learn about games that can help with visual motor development.


Photo Credit


Posted by: ugleepen | March 11, 2017

Researcher Awarded Grant to Study Workplace Ergonomics

mikeholmes-1600x1188The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced it has awarded Michael Holmes, assistant professor in Ontario’s Brock University’s Department of Kinesiology, a grant of nearly $100,000 for equipment purchases from its John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

Michael Holmes is determined to make work a safer place by studying how people sit, stand and use their muscles on the job.

To do that, however, he needs high-tech machines to help him track muscle activity and body movements.

With the money, Holmes will be purchasing three sophisticated devices to create the new Neuromechanics and Ergonomics Lab at Brock.

Among the equipment is a motion capture system. Similar to what’s used in the development of gaming, animation and cinema, nearly a dozen cameras will record research participants’ postures and body movements as they perform a variety of simulated workplace tasks.

Another piece of equipment is the haptic wrist robot, a one-of-a-kind device that is unique to Canada. Similar to a joystick, the device pushes back when a person tries to move it.

“This allows us to look at how the forearm muscles control the hand,” says Holmes.

The third piece of equipment is an electromyography system, or EMG, which evaluates and records electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles.

“This helps us to understand how the muscles generate the movements captured by our cameras,” says Holmes.

Holmes explains the combination of the three machines will give him and his research team a complete picture of workplace movement.

“We’ll understand what the muscles do, how people move and what sort of forces they’re interacting with.”

This knowledge, in turn, can be used to better design workplace tools and objects, or change workstations so that workers “interact with the tools differently” to prevent workplace injuries, he says.

“This research will lead to workplace and tool design strategies that make occupational tasks safer and more efficient,” says Holmes. “It will impact the lives of working people everywhere, because work shouldn’t hurt.”

Source: Brock University Media Relations

Posted by: ugleepen | February 28, 2017

What Parents Need to Know About Kids Learning to Write

Ergonomic Pen

Kids Learning to Write Need an Ergonomic Pen

It takes years of practice to learn how to write, and what you may not realize is that part of this practice involves more than just the repetition of drawing the letters and numbers. It involves making sure the muscles are properly developed to support the repetitive practice.

What you want to be aware of is that children of all ages are at risk for repetitive stress injury.

Because of their underdeveloped muscles, it is easy for children to accumulate small injuries early that stay with them as they grow older and get more active.

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) occur when too much stress is placed on a part of the body, resulting in pain, swelling, muscle strain, or tissue damage. It’s the repetition that causes the injury -even text messaging, which is so prevalent today can cause RSI.

An ergonomic pen, such as the UGLee Pen, is a great way to avoid repetitive stress injury and help prevent future hand problems.

Its ergonomic design keeps stress and strain off the tendons so that there will be no inflammation or swelling in that surrounding area.

The result is writing comfort with no pain and for the youngest of children learning to write, helping to avoid frustration associated with gripping the pen too hard.

For older children and teens, who are already active on the computer, texting on their cell phones and playing many sports, tension to their tendons can already be a problem.

With my ergonomic pen, you can rest assured that when they sit down to write, the tension to their tendons will be minimized and provide them with relief from pain.

This relief of strain to the tendons can carry through to their other activities as well.


Posted by: ugleepen | February 15, 2017

Do You Have Arthritis? Six Things You Should Ask Your Doctor

doctorAs an arthritis patient, there is basic information about your condition that you must know and understand.

Arthritis journalist Carol Eustice has put together six questions you should ask your doctor so that you will be able to work together as a team.

1 – What type of arthritis do I have? 

There are different types of arthritis.

Your treatment options  depend on your type of arthritis.

Being accurately diagnosed by your doctor and understanding your diagnosis are two essential elements of your health care.

2 – What did my test results show (blood tests and imaging studies)? 

Ask your doctor what abnormalities appeared in the test results. Inquire about the severity of the abnormalities.

Ask for a printed copy of the blood test results  and imaging study reports.

3 – When should I expect to notice improvement from my current treatment? 

After you have been diagnosed, your doctor will recommend a treatment regimen. Discuss your expectations with your doctor.

Your doctor should be able to explain the goal of your treatment, when you should expect some positive impact, and how long you will wait before switching to something else, if the current treatment appears to be ineffective.

4 – If my current treatment does not prove effective, what are my treatment options going forward? 

Some people find comfort in knowing what might come next. It allows you time to become mentally prepared.

5 – In addition to my prescribed medications, what should I be doing to help manage my arthritis? 

Traditional arthritis treatment, primarily involves medication. But, there are no rules that state you can’t try alternative or complementary treatments as well.

Tap into your doctor’s experience and ask for suggestions above and beyond medications.

Be specific as you discuss what is most bothersome to you and how it affects your ability to perform usual daily activities.

6 – What’s my prognosis? 

Based on the severity of your arthritis when you are first diagnosed and your response to treatment, ask your doctor what you should expect in the near future.

Discuss the possibilities — even though you know there are no guarantees.

The Bottom Line

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you stay on-topic with your doctor as you discuss your specific type of arthritis.

It will help you to understand how your treatment should work and allow you to set realistic goals.


Source: Carol Eustice  

Posted by: ugleepen | January 24, 2017

5 Tips to Reduce the Risk Of Arthritis

oldpersonArthritis is not merely a circumstance of old age.

It is a generalized term used for over 100 disorders and diseases, thus it is difficult to pinpoint specific preventative steps for everyone.

However, these 5 tips will help you support the health of your joints and reduce strain and injury that often leads to inflammation, and subsequently painful arthritis symptoms.

1. Maintain or Reduce Your Weight-   Carrying extra weight leads to extra stress on your joints- especially your knees and hips.

Research has shown that losing as little as 11 pounds may improve your joint health and cut your risk of osteoarthritis of the knee by 50 percent.

2. Strength Training- Lifting weights creates denser bones and builds stronger muscles that help stabilize and protect joints.

Strength training also boosts your metabolism while decreasing the percentage of body fat.

Work with a qualified trainer to assure you are using proper techniques to protect your joints. prevent injury and avoid undue joint stress.

3. Move that Body-  Exercise is great for overall health. It is possible to overdo it, however.

Pounding the pavement adds enormous stress to your joints.

Lowering the impact through aquatic exercises takes the strain off the joints while strengthening your muscles.

Hiking and walking builds bone strength as well, and Yoga and other forms of gentle exercise like Pilates and Tai Chi keep joints strong and muscles limber while erasing stress.

4. Ditch the Heels-   Wearing heels every day increases the force on a woman’s knees by 23%.

Research done in 2010 by Iowa State University also found that increased strain was put on a women’s back as a result of wearing high heels.

5. Feed Your Joints-   A number of specific nutrients have been shown to support joint health.

Strong bodies (and overall joint health) will benefit from bone-building calcium and vitamin K, tissue-repairing vitamin C, pain-relieving vitamin E, and folic acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to relieve pain and stiffness

Prevention always works better for your health, so these tips are applicable to everyone.

Practicing these five lifestyle changes could help reverse inflammation in your joints, thus possibly preventing the onset of arthritis.


Source: Robin Thomas/ Living Well Connections

Posted by: ugleepen | January 8, 2017

Work Smarter – Not Harder The Best Ergonomic Tools

ergo1If physical labor is part of your job description, making smart ergonomic choices about tool usage, lifting weights and other chores can prevent unnecessary pain, says journalist Erica Quinlan, who interviewed Shawn Ehlers, a research assistant at Purdue University.

“No matter what we do physically, we all have ergonomic issues,” Ehlers said. “Ergonomics is a big word that can apply to many things. It is basically anything that provides more comfort or reduced strain.”

Ehlers offered these 5 tips to work smarter:

1. Choose tools that fit you and your task.

2. Avoid excessive bending or twisting of back, wrist, arm, fingers.

3. Reduce duration of strain by using clamps, braces or add-on handles.

4. Consider taking brief breaks throughout the work session.

5. Use technologies that can reduce stress on the body.

There are a lot of individual factors that can determine how someone can get hurt and why, Ehlers said.

Factors include age, gender, strength, body size and shape, history of injuries and personality. 

No matter what factors you face, you can use what Ehlers calls “mechanical advantage” to work smarter, not harder.

“The way our bodies are built, certain postures and ways of holding things benefit us more than others,” he said.

“Holding things closer to your body is always better than holding things away from us. Elbows are always strongest at a 90-degree angle.”

Picking ergonomically appropriate tools can help prevent soreness and injury.

What makes a good ergonomic tool? Ones with the proper grip, handle size and shape for your body are ideal. Any tool that reduces bending, twisting or vibration also is helpful.

“You need to design your own tasks,” Ehlers said. “You’re in charge of doing your work, your way.”

Source: Erica Quinlan

Posted by: ugleepen | December 22, 2016

A Christmas Card Story

This image shows what's widely considered the first mass-produced Christmas card. It was printed in London in 1843.

This image shows what’s widely considered the first mass-produced Christmas card. It was printed in London in 1843.

Homemade and handwritten Christmas cards were popular in Victorian England. Beautiful, or at least precise, handwriting was considered a badge of honor, and Christmas greeting cards were one way to show off this skill.

Then Sir Henry Cole had an idea to speed up his own seasonal card-writing process.

Taking advantage of new printing technologies, Cole commissioned artist John Callcott Horsley to create a festive design, and produced about 1,000 copies of that Christmas card in 1843.

After Cole used the cards he needed, he sold the rest for one shilling each.

That card (seen above) is widely considered the first commercially produced Christmas card. Today, about 20 copies survive in libraries and archives

In Horsley’s illustration, a family celebrates at center, but lest you forget the charitable side of Christmas spirit, they’re flanked by images of people feeding and clothing the poor.

There’s also a banner that reads “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

xmas-american-cardThe trend quickly migrated to the United States. Another early Christmas card (above), that was printed in Philadelphia around 1850, similarly shows a family of five around a hearth, while a servant in the background seems to be setting the table. The family is surrounded by food, drink, dancers and snow-covered houses.

The U.S. Greeting Card Association predicts Americans will send about 1.6 billion Christmas cards this year. This multimillion-dollar industry can thank Sir Henry Cole for its innovative beginnings almost 200 years ago.


Source: Megan Gannon, News Editor/ Live Science

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