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Today new type of computer related workplace injuries are on the rise, and one of the most commonly reported injuries is elbow pain from computer use. Which is often called mouse elbow.
When you work with mouse and keyboard eight hours or more each day it can cause problems for your health, especially for people after 40. Many people develop RSI in their mouse hand. This is a choric condition that restrict your activities. The danger should not be underestimated.
The rules of avoiding computer-related RSI are very simple: do not overuse computer, use optimal posture, improve your technique, use ergonomic equipment to the max, while limiting the load. Try alternative input sources such as speech recognition. But it si easier said that done.
Here is a relevant quote from Repetitive Strain Injury How to prevent, identify, and manage RSI
The three primary risk factors are poor posture, poor technique, and overuse. These topics are discussed in depth in the section on prevention. In addition to these, there are several other risk factors to be aware of. While they may not cause RSI on their own, they can increase your risk if you already possess one of the three primary risk factors. The following list (adapted from Pascarelli and Quilter) lists several risk factors. You may be at risk for developing an RSI if you:
- Have arthritis, diabetes, or another serious medical condition
- Have poor posture
- Have poor technique
- Don't take regular breaks
- Use a computer more than two to four hours a day
- Have a job that requires constant computer use, especially heavy input
- Don't take frequent breaks
- Are loose-jointed
- Don't exercise regularly
- Work in a high-pressure environment
- Keep your fingernails long
- Have an sedentary lifestyle
- Weigh more than you should
- Don't sleep well
- Are afraid to ask for better accommodations
- Won't accept that you are at risk when you really are
Consult Pascarelli and Quilter for further information.
At the same time RSI is a catch-all term that applies to several medical conditions including tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome:
The carpal tunnel is normally quite snug and there is just barely enough room in it for the tendons and one nerve to pass through it. If anything takes up extra room in the canal, things become too tight and the nerve in the canal becomes constricted or "pinched". This pinching of the Median nerve causes numbness and tingling in the area of the hand that the nerve goes to.
See some interesting discussion at Anyone else here have killer tendonitis in your mouse arm
|One basic measure to reduce tendonitis pain is to reduce the amount of work performed by affected hand. Those reduction can include amount of typing, mousing, playing video games, and playing games like tennis.|
There two simple ways to prevent and reduce computer-related RSI:
In many cases RSI is self-inflicted wound. For example cradling telephone between the shoulder and the ear so that you can talk while you work with your keyboard and mouse is "a recipe for disaster". Working with mouse only when your elbow is firmly positioned on your desk or on the arm of your chair if it is level with your desk is also important.
As for improving your equipment there are several areas where you can get positive result with minimal investment:
Avoid common bad habits. see 10 Simple RSI Prevention Tips
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May 30, 2010
Youíve read a dozen times about good posture & wrist position, but else can I do? We put together a short list of [creative] tips.
- Swap out your keyboard & mouse 3 times a day. This one comes from some Google engineers who have a daily rotation of peripherals. This forces your hands into more of a variety of hand positions which is quite beneficial. Remember, weíre trying to make what you do all day less repetitive.
- Stretch more than just your forearms. A lot of problems higher up in the arm & shoulder areas manifest in other areas like your wrists (think about how acupuncture needles are placed in other parts of the body than the area in pain). A full range of stretching [yoga is excellent] in the upper body can make a big difference.
- Non-smoking smoke breaks. You donít have to be a smoker to have an excuse to step outside!
- Pay attention to your posture when you go to sleep. Are you curled up into a ball or stacking 3 pillows for your head at night? Good posture increases circulation, which [in theory] helps you extremities heal. Sleep accounts for 1/3 of your day, so give it thought around the clock.
- Create macros for two-key keyboard combinations. The fewer keys you press, the less stress on you fingers right? For example ctrl-C [copy], ctrlX [cut], ctrl-V [paste] can all be made single keystrokes by various keystroke macro programs out there, or by specialty keyboards such as the logitech g13/g15. We did a writeup on using the g15 to consolidate key combos to a single button here.
Anyone with a smartphone or tablet, of course, can tell you that the end of the mouse is nigh. Consider Mycestro, the new Kickstarter-funded ď3D mouseĒ from entrepreneurs David Greenspan and Nick Mastandrea. The Bluetooth-enabled device clips onto your index finger, letting you control your cursor with simple gestures. Imagine Tom Cruise in ďMinority ReportĒ flipping through screens with a flick of his hand; thatís essentially what you would look like giving a presentation on your laptop or an Internet-enabled TV. Setting up the Mycestro isnít much harder than setting up a wireless mouse.
Itís also extremely mobile. Even people who prefer not using trackpads are loath to bring a mouse into their local coffee shop. The Mycestro, which weighs about as much as a wireless earpiece, solves this problem by fitting easily in your pocket. Yes, itís convenient, but will consumers want to look like theyíre conducting an invisible orchestra while web-browsing? Early signs are positive: the Kickstarter project looks poised to smash its goal of raising $100,000 by Friday, March 29.
At only $79 during pre-order, itís in the same ballpark as a high-end wireless mouse ó not cheap, but easily affordable for the motivated early adopter.
... ... ...
Mycestro is only one of the many nails in the mouseís coffin.
The Kinect, a motion-sensing device originally sold as an accessory to Microsoftís Xbox 360, has found robust demand among computer researchers and roboticists. Itís not hard to imagine a variation of it interpreting voice and motion commands for all PCs in the future.
Tobiiís Gaze technology wowed reporters at CES as they controlled an asteroid-blasting spaceship ó with their eyes. Just attach a small bar to the bottom of your Windows 8 PC monitor and shift your gaze, stopping to concentrate on whatever you want to open or enlarge. Currently selling for $995, the Tobii Rex is meant mainly for developers, but that doesnít mean a more-affordable version isnít on the horizon.
The buttons are very solid and have a nice click to them. If you have severe Ďtrigger fingerí then you might want something with a softer click. I will say the right button is softer than the left, so it might be a manufacturing inconsistency. The scroll wheel is the same story. While itís has an excellent feel and is very high quality, it doesnít exactly glide like butter like some mice. This is a mouse oriented towards relieving wrist pains & hand aches more so than trigger finger. For people with both trigger finger and wrist problems, you might consider this mouse in conjunction with perhaps a foot pedal for the mouse click.The verdict? I like it a lot. The build quality is excellent and it has a nice weight to it. The downside is that it costs $130
... ... ...
Update: Itís now been 3 months since I initially wrote this post. So far I think this mouse takes the crown in effectiveness against RSI. My wrist pains have mostly subsided and my fingers arenít cramping like they used to. It strikes a great balance between a vertical & horizontal mouse. Iím starting to think thereís something concrete here, like this mouse might be the magic bullet. Itís pretty funky & gets a lot of comments from my coworkers, but if youíre not afraid to be different and youíre serious about your RSI, then this mouse should be near the top of your list.
Softpanorama hot topic of the month
Repetitive Strain Injury How to prevent, identify, and manage RSI
10 Simple RSI Prevention Tips
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