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THE KNEEBONE'S CONNECTED TO...

Surgeons are complaining students lack flexible fingers due to phones

By Kabir Chibber

To the list of things that young people can’t do anymore because of their smartphones, add becoming a surgeon.

The appropriately named Roger Kneebone, a professor of surgical education at Imperial College in London, says he has seen a decline in the dexterity of his students over the past decade.

“It is a concern of mine and my scientific colleagues that whereas in the past you could make the assumption that students would leave school able to do certain practical things—cutting things out, making things—that is no longer the case,” Kneebone said, the BBC reported. “We have students who have very high exam grades but lack tactile general knowledge.”

We use smartphones so much, they have given way to terms like “text claw” or “cell phone elbow”—both popular names for cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome—as well as “smartphone tendonitis.” That said, there is also evidence that smartphones and the requisite increase in thumb-and-finger use are making our brains work harder. That’s no help to surgeons who need the medical students lithe and supple.

Learning crafts that require “cutting things out, making things,” Kneebone said, would give younger people a more complete education as they learn to use their hands.