Prevention of Computer Related Injuries
Following simple tips on exercise and ergonomics can prevent computer related injuries. It is easier to prevent computer related injuries than to cure them.
As with everything else, prevention is better than cure in computer- related injuries too. Faulty workplace habits left uncorrected can rapidly become serious problems. For example Repetitive Stress Injuries stemming from prolonged hours at the keyboard without pauses can seriously hamper work if they are neglected at an early stage. Wrist problems can compound into severe pain and swelling and a person cannot use a keyboard until the swelling goes away. In a worst case scenario the affected person may have to switch to a different kind of job altogether.
Risk for developing some of the RSI, such as Carpel Tunnel syndrome, may be inherent in an individual or may run in families. In such cases there is no single way to prevent the condition. The correct use of computers can go a long way to reduce related traumas.
User tips - Correct use of Computers
- Your computer screen or monitor has to be at, or slightly below, your eye level with the screen about an arm's length away from your eyes.
- When you are typing, your keyboard should be at elbow level and your mouse should be close to your body.
- Frequently used items should not be more than 45cms away from you.
- When sitting at a computer desk, you should place your feet flat on the floor with thighs parallel to the floor.
- Sit up straight and try to maintain the sitting posture of an S-shaped spine, not a C-shaped one. Adjust the backrest if necessary, to support your lower back.
- Many with RSI symptoms report they feel less pain when typing, compared to when using a mouse. Use keyboard shortcuts as often as possible.
- When using a laptop it can help to plug in an attachable keyboard so that the screen can be positioned at an appropriate height.
- Keep your hands warm. Working in a cold environment increases chances of hand pain and stiffness. If you canít control the temperature, rub your palms against each other vigorously when you feel them growing cold.
- Take frequent breaks to stretch and relaxómomentary breaks every now and then to relax and longer breaks once every hour or so, for stretching.
- When you are not typing, your wrists should not rest on the keyboard, should not be bent up or down or to the side.
- Increase your font sizes so you donít have to read things pressurizing the nerves and blood vessels in the neck and shoulders.
- Try to reduce computer usage. Replace some email messages with phone calls or personal interaction wherever possible. Cut down on computer games or pause the game every 3-4 minutes.
There are any number of computer training courses designed to create awareness of computer related health hazards, to minimize risk of computer related injuries and to promote a healthy working environment and healthier workers.
Occupational therapists list clear guidelines that a computer worker needs to follow to minimize computer related injury risks, especially to avoid wreaking havoc on oneís musculoskeletal system and to delay the onset of heart diseases and diabetes due to lack of exercise. The onus is on the individual worker to assume responsibility for his body to be fit and free from disease. The following set of simple guidelines will help in the overall maintenance of health, for computer workers.
Health Tips for computer users
- Practice stretching exercises that stretch your muscles and nerves at least 4 times each day.
- Work the muscles aerobically doing aerobics, swimming, brisk walking or jogging for half an hour three times a week.
- Practice relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Many people find Yoga and meditation useful in helping to relax nerves and muscles.
- Start an exercise regimen that suits your system.
- Learn correct breathing techniques.
- Seriously consider stress and/or anger management.
- Control your weight at an ideal level.
- Avoid excessive intake of saturated fats, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and sugar.
- CRS Computer Related Syndrome: Prevention and Treatment of Computer Related Injuries by Dr. Richard Dean Smith and Steven T. Garske (1997)
- Repetitive Strain Injury: A Computer Userís Guide by Dr. Emil Pascarelli and Deborah Quilter (1994) (Paperback)
- It's Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! RSI Theory & Therapy for Computer Professionals by Jack Bellis and Suparna Damany (2001) (Paperback)