Web sites can ease the strain of RSI

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 May, 1996, 12:00am

It has happened to me. After witnessing many of my colleagues suffer for years, I finally know what pain they suffered. I have repetitive strain injury.

All the symptoms are there - sore and painful wrists and forearms, throbbing, weakness in my hand - the whole lot. It is not surprising. After all, as a journalist, RSI is probably a regular occupational hazard.

But now the symptoms are developing from a mild annoyance into something which actually limits my ability to work. I find myself needing to quickly learn more about the problem. I have to do something to prevent further injury and eliminate the symptoms I currently have.

So, as usual, I turned to the Web. It took only 30 minutes and two stops at Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com) and Altavista (http://altavista.digital.com) to find a wealth of information on the subject. Because of the potentially debilitating nature of RSI, here is a list of some of the more useful sources of information on the Web. Amaras RSI Page (http://www.amara.com/aboutme/rsi.html).

This page provides a comprehensive overview of everything related to RSI from the scope of the problem (its epidemic, one doctor said) to treatment and a bibliography of related books on the subject.

It was here that I learnt that between 1978 and 1990 the incidence of RSI reported in the workplace in the United States increased from 20,200 to 185,400.

RSI Page (http://www.engr.unl.edu/ee/eeshop/rsi.html).

This page from the University of Nebraska, offers an equally comprehensive overview of RSI, its causes and treatment.

Unlike the Amaras page, this site offers graphics and photos which help guide users in designing an ergonomic work space for their computer and provides a quick list of symptoms which can indicate the onset of RSI.

This page offers a strong list of related sites as well as pointers to documents of related interest such as those on stretching and massage.

MIT Media Labs (http://cahn.www.media.mit.edu/people/cahn/lab-recs.html).

A slightly different type of page about RSI comes from MIT's well-known Media Lab. This page comprises recommendations which were raised at a meeting held among staff and students at the lab last winter.

The page simply lists the recommendations which range from the obvious (proper posture) to the useful (keep arms and hands warm) to the creative (buy electronic timers that beep loudly so that everyone in the office is made aware of your problem) to the downright outrageous (use vi instead of emacs - only UNIX users will even understand this one).

For those who want to read real books on paper (and perhaps avoid aggravating their RSI the way I did by researching on the Web), then Micronite Online offers a list of books on the subject at http://www.micronite.co/html/books.html.

Each book includes a short description and the ISBN number which will make them easy to order.

Now that I have learned all I can in 30 minutes about RSI, I am faced with the toughest challenge of all: getting medical help.

Unfortunately, the Web cannot help me there. My local yellow pages are not on-line.