Healthy Hints - Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a painful condition caused by long-term
incorrect and repetitive use of nerves & tendons. So when using a computer
for long periods of time whether for a job or fun you may find yourself
performing hundreds if not thousands of small repetitive actions.
Therefore it is important to be aware of any discomfort, particular in the
hands, arms, neck or back as these may be an indication of RSI that requires
professional medical advice.
Symptoms of RSI can include:
- pain or tenderness in muscles or joints
- tingling, throbbing or numbness
However, there are certain actions you can take that may reduce the chance of this becoming a problem.
The information displayed here should not be considered as official advice but is rather a generalization of recommendations from around the World.
IMPORTANT: If you feel that you may be experiencing any health issues you should always seek advice from a health professional such as a doctor or optician.
Try to take frequent breaks from your computer work. This will give your body time to recover from being in a static posture.
More information about the benefits of taking frequent breaks is available here.
Typing Technique & Products
When using the keyboard it is recommended that you keep your wrists in line with your forearm.
Adopting the touch-typing technique can also help to minimize your hand movements.
Products are also available that can help from keyboard and mouse wrist rests to ergonomic keyboards.
Alternative Input Devices
There are number of alternatives to using a standard keyboard and mouse that can help change which muscles and tendons you use.
Speech Recognition Software
Although probably not suited to busy offices, speech recognition can be
used to either enter text or to control the computer and thus reduce mouse and
This ability is even available free in popular editions of Windows:
Windows 7 & Windows Vista, can be found under:
All Programs » Accessories » Ease of Access » Windows Speech Recognition.
Windows 8, can be found under:
All Apps » Windows Ease of Access » Windows Speech Recognition.
Alternatives to the Mouse
Switching to a different pointing device can result in using different muscles
and tendons and thus may give those currently being used a rest. Such
alternatives include trackball, track pad and touch screen. Some computer
mice also have additional side buttons; consider re-assigned their actions to perform left
and right clicks thus changing which fingers are used.
If your job relies on performing different tasks, try not spending too long performing any particular one.
Instead, try varying your activities, preferably with non-computer related tasks, such as paperwork,
discussing work topics with fellow colleagues or tidying your work area.
Automating Tasks & Shortcuts
By automating even the smallest computer actions, you can reduce the number of
mouse and keyboard clicks while also becoming more productive.
Such automated tasks can include:
- Browser Favorites
Creating Web Browser favorites or using its history avoids having to re-enter
the web address or search term of frequently visited sites. This is also useful for
avoiding typos that can result in going to the wrong and sometimes malicious places on the Internet.
- Macro Recorders
Office based programs such as Word Processors and Spreadsheets usually offer the
ability to create Macros or record keystrokes. These can then be used to
perform multiple or repetitive tasks at the push of far fewer buttons.
- Keyboard Shortcuts
Most Windows programs support standard keyboard shortcuts for common tasks.
Below is a list of the more common ones. For a full list see Windows Help on Keyboard Shortcuts.
|Ctrl + a||Select all text and objects within a window|
|Ctrl + c||Copy selected items to the Windows Clipboard|
|Ctrl + v||Paste items from the Windows Clipboard|
|Ctrl + x||Cut selected items & copy to the Windows Clipboard|
|Ctrl + z||Undo last action|
|Ctrl + y||Redo last undone action|
|Ctrl + s||Save document|
|Ctrl + Left or Ctrl + Right||Jump cursor left or right one word|
|Ctrl + Home or Ctrl + End||Jump to the start or end of the document|
|Windows Key + e||Open Windows File Explore|
|Windows Key + f||Search the computer for a file or folder|
|Windows Key + l||Lock the Computer|
|Windows Key + m||Minimize all windows and display the desktop|
|Windows Key + +||Zoom Windows|
|Alt + Tab||Switch between open application windows|
|Tab or Shift + Tab||Move to next or previous control within a window|
|Alt + underline letter||Action corresponding menu or Windows control|
Windows 8 Specific:
|Windows Key + c||Display Windows Charm icons panel|
|Windows Key + i||Display Change PC Settings panel|
|Windows Key + w||Display search settings panel|
|Windows Key + x||Display useful administrative tasks menu. Includes Control Panel|
- Program Shortcuts
For those Windows programs you use frequently, you can place additional shortcuts that are quicker to access or even associated them with a keyboard shortcut.
To do this, find the application's existing entry from the Start Menu's, All Programs section and right-click it.
This will bring up a menu of possible actions that include:
- Send To » Desktop - Adds a shortcut on your desktop
- Pin to Start Menu - Adds a shortcut at the top of the Start Menu
- Pin to Taskbar - Adds a shortcut on the Windows Taskbar (Windows 7 & 8)
- Properties - For specifying a 'Shortcut key', E.g.
Ctrl+Alt+d for My Documents
| Creating a My Documents Keyboard Shortcut ||X |
|To set this up:|
- Create a shortcut to your My Documents
From the Start Menu, right-click the Documents entry and select Send to » Desktop.
- Assign the Desktop Shortcut a Keyboard Shortcut
Right-click the new desktop shortcut, select Properties and specify the Shortcut key.
- Desktop Tidy-up
You can move this shortcut elsewhere, for instance, right-click on All Programs » Accessories and select Open. Now drag-and-drop the desktop shortcut to this folder.
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