Radiation & EMF
|Welcome to the General Information FAQ!
Advice for the initially injured, basic ergonomics information, and pointers to additional resources across the Internet and inside your local bookstore. Provides information and website links related to office ergonomics, RSIs, medical and alternative health information sources, and related topics. Lists additional information resources including support groups, publications, mail lists, newsgroups, FTP and Gopher sites, and some of the best informational websites in existance.
The educational material provided in this website is intended for informational purposes only -- consult a health professional familiar with RSIs for specific treatment recommendations. If you are experiencing injury symptoms, consult with your health professional as soon as possible. Even a few days can make a big difference between a rapid, easy recovery and a prolonged, difficult process of fighting chronic symptoms.
Q&A on RSIs, Ergonomics. Etc.
Q: What are repetitive strain injuries (RSIs)?
They start when you do the same task over and over again, from clicking a mouse to craning to see the computer monitor. If your body doesn't get a chance to heal, the damage adds up, and can eventually destroy your ability to do your job. (CNN -- Working Wounded)
RSI is a general, umbrella term for these host of injuries, other terms used for RSI include:
Following are some specific examples of injuries typically considered RSIs:
See the Glossary and RSI Information for more terms and definitions.
Q: What are the injury signs that I
should look for?
When physical activities (work, sports, hobbies, etc.) become excessive to the point of injury, localized fatigue is usually the first sign of excessive strain to the body. Symptoms of localized fatigue are discomfort (aches and pains), loss of strength, and trembling in the affected limbs. These symptoms tend to increase as the offending activity is continued and usually decrease or disappear within hours or minutes of stopping the task. When symptoms of fatigue persist, even after normal rest, this may indicate a problem exists. If you are still tired and in pain after a night's rest, the activity in question may be stressing you to the point of injury.
Q: What should I do
if I experience RSI-related pain?
Q: What are typical injury risk
Physical activity (occupational work or not) risk factors have generally been considered to be the following:
Personal, medical conditions may increase the risk of injury. For CTS, these conditions include:
Environmental/Psychosocial issues that can also contribute to injury risk are:
Q: What can I do to avoid
Workstation Ergonomics - The physical design of the workplace (workstations, tools, job design) has a large influence on how we work. Proper placement and design of computer equipment and other office items, so as to avoid injury risk factors, is an aim of ergonomics. Generally, keep those items that you use frequently close to you to avoid frequent reaching and awkward postures when you use them. For more ideas, see Ergonomics.
Injury and Somatic Awareness - Knowing about RSI injury risk factors and being able to recognize symptoms when they occur is an important step in avoiding injury, as well as being able to take care of the injury and it's likely cause, when it does occur. Beyond these items are individual workstyle issues, such as how hard we strike the keyboard keys or squeeze the mouse, how we position our fingers, wrists, arms, and shoulders while we work; and where we place items frequently used throughout the day. We don't generally pay a lot of attention of how we go about doing our daily activities until our body starts telling us something is wrong by hurting. Many people ignore what their body is telling them and work through the pain to get the job done. The main issue here is to listen to your body and take a break, change how you are doing the activity that hurts, or get help. There are several ways of learning more about our bodies and how they move (somatic education) include training classes provided by Physical or Occupational Therapists, Biofeedback, Feldenkrais Method or Alexander Technique practitioners, and eastern techniques through Yoga and Tai Chi. (see Alternative Health)
General Health - Taking care of ourselves through good nutrition and stretching/exercise helps our body be ready for the daily exertions we place on it. Several personal/medical risk factors can be addressed through spending the time to take care of ourselves, so our body can take care of us.
Q: Ouch! Too late, I'm hurt. Who can help me?
See Organizations and Services
Q: What kinds of products
Furniture - What you sit in, the furniture that holds and positions your computer and office equipment, and how they are set up and adjusted, probably has the largest affect of all the products on your ability to work with reduced injury risk.
Keyboards - Keyboards have a lot of design issues that have made them subject to many studies and litigation over the last three decades. A variety of keyboard designs are now available to assist in avoiding awkward postures related to keyboarding.
Speech Recognition - For those injured computer users that have limited use of their hands, speech recognition is a valid tool to assist in getting the job done.
Pointing Devices - Squeeze it, roll it, touch it, look at it, fly it through the air in front of you, there is an amazing variety of devices that allow you to move your cursor around the screen. Much of the problems encountered by computing may well be the fault of a little rodent (mouse), as well as how we use it. Mice, trackballs, touchpads, and other devices require different physical demands and thus provide a change for hurting fingers and hands.
Accessories - Helpful little items ranging from wrist rests to foot rests and many items in between. Furniture, office, and computer accessories can help keep neutral postures and reduce static and forceful exertions related to RSIs.
Software - Sometimes it is just too hard to remember to vary your work at the computer when you're actively mind-melding/bonding with your silicon partner. There is a growing list of software available to remind you to take a break, stretch/exercise, and train you in the finer points of ergonomics, all right on your own computer.
Resellers - Some products are readily available at your local computer super store, or off of the Internet, however many of the larger and more specialized products are only available through resellers focusing on the ergonomic and healthcare markets.
Q: Where can I go to get more information?
Also see what Articles might be of interest to you as well as those found in The RSI Network newsletter archives.
Also see Ergonomics and other Information Links
Last Updated: 01/30/02