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Computers, smartphones, and tablets are everywhere and seemingly make peoples’ lives easier. A study conducted by UCLA found that young people spend upwards of 7 hours a day attached to their devices. Garry W. Small, et. al.,Healthy behavior and memory self-reports in young, middle-aged, and older adults, 26.6International Psycogeriatrics 981-989.
The consistent use and dependence on these devices comes with some negative consequences. Individuals who rely heavily on technology may suffer deterioration in cerebral performance such as short-term memory dysfunction. Research has shown that reliance on devices can lead to issues with memory and cognitive skills, dubbed “digital dementia.” “Digital Dementia” is a term coined by Manfred Spitzer and is used to describe how overuse of digital technology can result in the breakdown of cognitive abilities in ways that are commonly seen in people who have suffered head injuries or psychiatric illness.
What impact does this have for employers and workers’ compensation carriers? Digital dementia may become the new carpel tunnel syndrome, especially with older generations who were not exposed to technology before entering the workforce. An employee could argue digital dementia is an “occupational disease” that naturally results from working with technology.
These “digital dementia” claims will likely be decided in a manner similar to “job stress” or mental trauma claims. The Texas Supreme Court has held that damage or harm caused by repetitious mentally traumatic activities does not constitute an occupational disease and is not considered a compensable injury under the Act. However, if the event can be traced to a definite time, place, and cause, it could produce a compensable injury. In most cases, it will be difficult for an injured employee to pinpoint a discernable time, place, and cause to the alleged “digital dementia,” because it is a “repetitive” type injury that occurs over time.
Click the link to learn more aboutDigital Dementia and the effects it has on the brain.
- Copyright 2018,Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP