Ergonomics RSI

Looking Back

RSI has been part of my life for over ten years now. In many ways I can’t remember the pain free time before the condition started. It’s hard to remember how it felt to use a computer and not associate its use with pain. I have in the past often been asked, ‘Why is this happening to you when others doing similar jobs don’t have any symptoms?’ Well, I guess we are all individuals, with unique musculo-skeletal structures, sensitivities and vulnerabilities, and therefore we all will react to using computers in different ways. We also have our individual ergonomic foibles, no two of us are the same, and we all misuse computers in a slightly different way from each other. As such, we can experience a multitude of different symptoms. Hence the global term “Repetitive Strain Injury” which is really an umbrella term for a wide array of more specific but little known ailments.

From my own perspective I have been using computers for a long time (circa early 1980s – from Sinclair ZX81s to Commodore 64s, to BBC Micros, to mainframes, to early IBM PCs, to Sun workstations) and did not have the benefits of a still evolving ergonomics industry. It is after all only in the last 5 to 10 years that ‘ergonomist’ was recognised as a job function. Indeed, it’s only just over 10 years ago that computers started to appear as common on peoples desks as a telephone. In many ways people in today’s generation will reap the benefits from emerging ergonomic knowledge obtained from years of watching cases like mine escalate in the computer using workforce.

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