Many of these injuries are preventable.
There are a number of reasons why routine appraisal of your employees' physical state and the state of their workstations has significant benefits for all.
! Remedial actions can improve comfort and therefore improve productivity
! Opportunity to influence behaviours and promote safe working practices
! Education empowers individuals to improve their workplace hazards and habits
! Early identification of symptoms always helps to reduce long term cumulative damage
It would appear that the main factors in giving an increased likelihood for RSI fall into the following categories:
RSI is a general term used to describe a primary cause of a condition. It can also indicate an aggravating factor of a pre-existing condition. It simply refers to the repeated use of particular muscle groups as causative and/or aggravating factors.
Most often the term RSI is used to classify conditions related to computer work. It also includes conditions caused by writing with pen/pencil, prolonged periods of gripping and squeezing, playing musical instruments, typing and especially using a mouse.
Any action repeated too many times, no matter how light, will produce a repetitive strain.
As a result of many years of observation of patterns of pain Paul Manley produced the ‘RSI maps’. These maps indicate the specific areas most likely to be afflicted by pain and its spread. They enable us to interpret the areas involved and the related hand/wrist/finger/spine/leg movements and tension patterns specific to those areas.
This then enables us to make recommendations regarding habits and to evaluate the nature and severity of the condition.
1. Use varied means of communicating with your computer, keyboard shortcuts, pen tablets, voice recognition.
2. Do not use the scrollwheel on your mouse, this will give pain along the top of the forearm.
3. Don't grip the mouse when you don't have to.
4. Do not hold the hands pointing up or the extensors on the top of the forearm will become tired and achey.
5. Stretch the hand and forearm tendons regularly.
6. Vitamin and mineral supplements are useful depending on the lack of these elements in the individual. Vitamin B12 and Magnesium can be very useful for the ‘run down’ and crampy person. Certain muscle building dietary supplements can help to build muscle where a person has poor muscle development.
7. General exercise such as cardiovascular exercises stimulates blood flow to the whole body and can therefore be beneficial to all the muscles.
8. Air conditioning drafts should be avoided for those of us who are sensitive to such things as cold air will make the highly temperature sensitive muscles of the neck and the deep muscles of the forearm contract in tension.
9. Hydration. Without water we would all be dead in three days. Water is the largest element of muscle, and is fundamental to all functions of the body. An adult should consume around 1.5 litres per day.
10. Sleep is one of the most important factor of all in recovery. It is more than mere rest, it rebuilds us nightly and is to be greatly respected.
11. Experiment with different mouse types and sizes. Always use a laser, wireless mouse or graphic pen. Some touch screens are very ergonomic. Experimentation with different input devices is a good way of judging what is best for the individual.
12. Avoid texting, gaming and emailing by phone.
13. Armrests on chairs should be used. The desk design should not such that it prevents the operator from getting close enough to their desk. Ideally one should be able, with the base of the spine touching the back of your seat, to get close enough under the desk to touch your belly to the desk edge. Too many desks don’t allow for this. If this is the case, the operator will be forced to sit forwards on the edge of their chair. This is very bad for posture and circulation to the legs.
14. Footrests for the vertically challenged are vital.
15. Monitors should be placed so that the operator's natural eye-line falls near to the top of the screen. The screen should be angled slightly back at the top so that it is more parallel with the operators face-line.
16. Psychological factors: Fear is an important factor. Fear is bred by uncertainty.
People react very differently to uncertainty, ranging from the ‘head in the sand’ approach to the suicidal. It is vital that the employee knows as much as possible about their condition, its causes, cures and above all, its prognosis.
This is where expertise comes into its own.
17. Most importantly deadline pressures, being asked to work for 10 hours a day for 6 days is a very common cause.It has been found that the very act of filling in our online analysis/case history has resulted in people realising not only their bad habits but also being able to identify very specific areas of their anatomy and to understand why it is in pain.
When people do not know why they are suffering or what their future holds because of it, despair can dominate. Knowledge is a power that negates anxiety. The very act of filling in the questions and being able to map out their pain syndromes results in greater empowerment. The resultant advice and observations will then guide them through the reasons why they are suffering and point them towards possible cures.
Whilst a small number of RSI and spinal problems can be chronic, the majority are relatively easy to avoid and to correct using a precise diagnosis, examination and treatment of the structures involved. Thus, any physiotherapist, massager, osteopath, chiropractor, gym, trainer, GP or other specialist will find the reports from Workplace Wellness to be of tremendous use in comprehending and treating conditions.