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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 06 March 2006

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Texts appeal, but are you risking your health?

TO COINCIDE with RSI Awareness Day that was held on 28 February 2006, Chartered Physiotherapists warned UK text addicts that constant mobile messaging could be harmful to their health.  Latest figures reveal that the number of text messages sent everyday has risen to 100 million and that the number of mobile phones currently in circulation exceeds the UK's population size, taking the figure to over 60 million. The Mobile Data Association predicts that 36.5 billion text messages will be sent during 2006, a 14% increase on last year.

With so many people using mobile phones on a daily basis, physiotherapists are concerned that the repetitive movements involved in tapping out messages could cause injuries to the hands, wrists and arms.  Chartered Physiotherapist Bronwyn Clifford has worked with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) on a guide mobile gadget users can follow to help prevent the onset of 'text message injury'.

Bronwyn says:- "People often think that repetitive strain injuries are only associated with the workplace. However what we do between 9am and 5pm is not the only factor in the development of these problems.  Excessive texting and prolonged use of the buttons and dials found on an array of modern handheld gadgets, including MP3s, Blackberry devices and portable games consoles, can contribute to hand, wrist and arm problems.  The small, definite, repetitive movements used to manoeuvre controls on these tiny handsets can begin to cause pain over time. The thumb, while good for gripping, is not a very dextrous digit and is particularly susceptible to injury."

Top tips for texters:-

1. Break regularly when texting, before the onset of any discomfort. Try to use both hands together when texting to 'spread the load' between thumbs.

2. Learn to use the predictive text feature on your phone. This will reduce the repetitive motion of pressing various keys.

3. Hold the phone up in front of you so you do not have to flex your neck too much as you look down to view the screen.

4. Keep your hands close to your body when holding your phone. The weight of a phone may not feel much, but the load on your arm is significantly increased if the arm is held out stretched and this action will put strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.

5. If your hand or forearm feels tense or sore, massage your arm from the wrist to the elbow and try these three exercises:-

a. Regularly open your fingers and gently stretch them out.

b. Stretch your arm out, rotate your wrist so it is facing upwards and with your other hand gently pull your palm down towards the floor to feel a stretch over the front of your forearm muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

c. Stretch your arm out, rotate your wrist so it is facing downwards and with your other hand gently pull your hand back towards your wrist to feel a stretch over the back of your forearm muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.

for gadget users:-

1. With MP3 players, be aware that simply changing songs too often can lead to repetitive strain injury, especially when using rotating wheels. Try to alternate fingers and hands when operating gadgets.

2. When using game console units, ensure that you break regularly to stretch and move around between games.

For further information on how to avoid RSI, seek professional advice. To find a chartered physiotherapist speak to your GP about a referral to your local physiotherapy service. Alternatively, visit www.physio2u.org.uk for a list of private practitioners in your area.

Top of the class!

A LIVERPOOL school has been described as 'outstanding' by inspectors.  OFSTED has given St Anne's (Stanley) Junior Mixed and Infants in Old Swan the maximum possible score in every single inspection category, and told the school they were "too modest" in their pre-inspection evaluation.

The school is located within one of the most deprived areas of the country, and pupils enter the school with low standards of education. However, by the time they leave they have above average results in English, maths and science - with no underachievement among any group.
The school is a specialist language centre and the children are taught French and more about other cultures through trips to Paris and a "Travel Buddy" scheme.

Councillor Paul Clein, executive member for children's services, said:- "This school is a beacon of excellence which provides a fantastic education for its children.  Congratulations to all pupils and staff for their hard work in driving up standards. It is making a real difference to the potential of children during their formative years."

Inspectors noted that youngsters "thoroughly enjoy school, work extremely hard and are very enthusiastic about learning", and teachers and support staff have "excellent relationships" with pupils.  The curriculum is described as "rich, stimulating and exciting", and the school is praised for incorporating healthy lifestyles and anti-bullying themes into lessons.

Headteacher Paul Bolger said:- " This outstanding report is a result of many years hard and focused work from all staff, children, governors and parents at our school."

The only recommendation that the inspection team has made is for the school to raise the standards in English from "good" to "high".

LOCAL SCHOOL MAKES OLD BAILEY APPEARANCE

A Merseyside school, Calday Grange Grammar, is to represent the region in the National Final of the Bar Mock Trial Competition on 11 March 2006.

The Bar National Mock Trial Competition involves teams of students aged 15 to 18 taking on the parts of barristers, court staff and jurors to tackle complex court cases. Each school team has been preparing for several months, helped by dedicated barrister volunteers who have worked with the students to help them get ready for their mock trial.

Calday Grammar won the Liverpool heat of the competition and will be competing against 15 other schools drawn from regional heats across the UK. The final will take place at the Old Bailey in London and among the judges will be Stephen Hockman QC, Chair of the Bar Council.

The Competition is sponsored by the Bar Council of England and Wales, the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, the Inns of Court and the Circuits, and is organised by the Citizenship Foundation, also supported by the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Commenting on the forthcoming final, Stephen Hockman QC commented:- "The Mock Trial Competition is a superb opportunity for young people to get to grips with their justice system. Those who take part not only learn the importance of a fair and effective system of justice, they gain valuable skills and have great fun."

The Competition is now in its 15th year and the Bar Council and Citizenship Foundation aim to ensure that young people are aware of their legal rights as well as their responsibilities.

Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation, said:- "Ensuring that everyone has an understanding of the law and legal system underpins the successful functioning of our democracy. We are particularly pleased to be holding the final of this year's Bar Mock Trial Competition at the Old Bailey, which is such a powerful symbol of the criminal justice process in this country."

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