Digital dementia: the tech epidemic of the new millennium

How overutilization of technology results in brain dysfunction and the decline of thinking, reasoning and memory.

There is a perfect storm approaching. No, not related to the weather, it’s the looming health care crisis. The dictionary definition of a perfect storm is a combination of events which are not individually dangerous but occurring together produce a disastrous outcome.

On April 14, chiropractor David Harper was speaking at the Fun and Faith event: Toronto Health Seminar. His message was simple: have a plan.

“The only way to avoid the storm is to not get sick,” he said. “The only way to achieve that is to have a personalized health expansion plan, where you manage your wellness with a whole new set of statistics.”

And a perfect storm is what we face in Canada. A financial crisis in our health care system, an aging population, the fact that the average Canadian will spend the last 10 years of their life living in sickness, healthcare bed space at a premium and stress is the precursor to brain disorders later in life.

Flash the warning lights for teenagers and adolescents: research has shown, their posture is declining at the speed of technology. Ninety per cent of children, by the age of 14, use a mobile phone. On average people check their screen 150 times a day. The pressure on the neck from this action is increased as the head tilts forward from looking down motion like checking texts or sending
messages on handheld devices.

Overuse of digital technology is resulting in the breakdown of cognitive ability in a way that is more commonly seen in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness. Those who rely heavily on technology may suffer deterioration in cerebral performance such as short-term memory dysfunction. In 2012, top German neuroscientist, Manfred Spitzer, coined it as Digital Dementia.

Studies have found individuals with the fear of missing out on social media are more likely to develop Digital Dementia. Common symptoms with forward head posture are: tension headaches, migraines, neck pain, shoulder tension, respiratory disorder, change in blood pressure, decreased proprioception and postural stability, jaw pain and dysfunction.

“You can’t leave a place that you do not know where you are,” Harper explained. “You will need to get screened for early cognitive decline to know your starting point. Then find a qualified health coach to guide you in prevention and overcome issues in the present, with a plan that measures health performance, rather waiting after the fact for a disease diagnosis. It is generally accepted that Alzheimer’s begins 30 to 50 years before a diagnosis is ever made.”

Harper suggests starting these five musts immediately to “not get sick.” You need to get checked and monitored for early cognitive decline; limit your time spent in front of a screen – get out again into nature; eat healthy foods; take breaks every 30-40 minutes from sitting – to prevent “sitting disease”; and stretch and increase your flexibility.

Visit to learn more about taking back control of your health.

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