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Friday, April 28, 2006

A great tool to avoid RSI

After reading Official Google Blog: Avoiding RSI I started looking for a good tool to avoid RSI (aka Repetitive strain injury, a disorder affecting bone and muscle from repetitive movements) and found Workrave. Now I can't stop using it:
It has 3 break timers:
1. Micro Breaks (asking your to stop and rest for a few seconds)
2. Rest Breaks (A few exercises follow by a few minutes away from the computer)
3. Daily Limit (Tells you when to stop working for the day)
All of the above are fully customizable and optional. If you spend a few hours or more on your computer you should try this great tool. It makes a big difference.


Repetitive Stress Injury said...

RSI is no small matter. It accounts for 34% of all lost-workday injury and illness — and costs almost $20 billion annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The National Academy of Sciences has concluded that an estimated $50 billion is lost by businesses every year from sick leave, decreased productivity and medical costs linked to repetitive stress disorders. The Academy has published two reports since 1998 which directly link repetitive motion to workplace injury.

The damage sustained from RSI is due to structural changes in the muscle fiber as well as due to decreased blood flow. Nerves can also be involved. The immobile tissue and surrounding inflammation compress the nerve which can cause numbness or tingling and eventually weakness if the nerve is damaged severely.

For those of you who need evidence, see this study on "Overuse Syndrome." In this study, biopsies were taken from hand muscles of injured and normal subjects, which demonstrated the structural damage in the muscle fibers and correlated the damage with the severity of the injury. In another study, biopsies were taken from neck muscles, and reduced local blood flow was found in the injured areas. The greater the pain difference, the greater the reduction in blood flow.

Some useful resources to help you out from Preventing Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)

Nathan said...

Yeah, contrary to popular belief, workstation ergonomics isn't just providing the right equipment, it's about using the equipment properly as well. Often, that entails asking people to change the habits of a lifetime, not to mention persuading the workaholics to actually take a break occasionally.

I had an ergonomics program like this, I can't remember for the life of me what the name of it was though. I lost it when my computer crashed though but I never bothered to reinstall, as taking breaks was a habit by then. It doesn't matter how people get themselves into the habit, so long as they do.