August/September 2000
Doctor, It Hurts When I Do This!
Why You Should Be Worried About RSI — Parts 1 & 2

by PAUL D. LEHRMAN

ouch!A friend of mine who writes for one of the computer magazines, and who also happens to be a wonderful musician, gave me a shiver when he casually opened one recent column with, "When I trashed my wrists back in the '80s..." I got another shiver when I received this reply to an e-mail I had sent to another computer writer: "I am on a typing break right now to rest my wrists, and cannot respond to any e-mail messages. I hope to return to my computer in about two weeks." Yet another friend, also a very talented writer and musician, had to give up both careers when his wrists gave out after just a few months working as a tech support manager for a large company. Now he builds wooden boats and collects guitars, which he cannot play for more than a few minutes at a time. And just last month a student of mine showed up for his final exam with his arm in a brace so complicated that it looked like he must have fractured the limb in three places. "What happened?" I asked. "I've been working on my term project for my video course, and I've been editing at the computer for two days straight. I can't feel my fingers."

The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman

Here are some RSI Resources on the Net you can consult.

A brief but very useful article by a physical therapist that covers all the important points is here.

A more formal, comprehensive article dating from 1988 is here.

A clear, cogent page with lots of good links put together by someone who is not a professional in the field but nonetheless knows what he's talking about, is here.

An articulate and scary article by a non-professional, who herself went through RSI Hell, is at www.amara.com/aboutme/rsi.html.

A user's group run by Harvard Medical School and Mass. General Hospital is here.

The RSI Network, www.ctdrn.org/rsinet.html, features a monthly newsletter, a mailing list, searchable archives, and hundreds of articles from sources all over the world.

Another mailing list for people with job-related hand issues can be joined at www.ucsf.edu/sorehand.

And you might also want to check out the typing injuries FAQ site, www.tifaq.org.