A few local teens are traveling to Washington, D.C., Friday to compete in the final round of a national public health contest. The top prizes in the Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition are two $50,000 scholarships.
Lucy Wang, a junior at Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills, Pa., said she is excited to present her findings on risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome among teens to panels of public health experts.
“I want teenagers to know that texting and video-gaming can drastically affect your life in ways that you probably don’t even imagine,” Wang said.
When two of Wang’s friends who frequently played video games were diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, she went online to find out how common the repetitive-use injury was among teens.
There was a lot of information on risk factors in the workplace, but she did not find anything pertinent to her search.
“I didn’t find any studies that analyzed teenage actives such as video gaming and texting as risk factors,” Wang said, “so that was the inspiration for my study.”
After surveying 280 area high school students, Wang, 17, found that texting was more of a risk factor for hand and wrist pain than typing was among her peers. Playing video games was another significant risk factor.
Germantown Friends junior Carey Celata, 16, will present findings from a study she designed showing that low iron levels are common among high school and college athletes.
Celata discovered she was anemic after having trouble with track workouts last spring. This winter, she surveyed other students to see how many had low iron levels and whether they were aware of it.
“There aren’t regular tests for anemia and I think that that should definitely be something that is considered for everyone,” Celata said. “Especially athletes, because it’s definitely a problem that we found.”
The two top winners of last year’s competition were both from Pennsylvania.