How to prevent computer repetitive strain injury

Computer related injuries can be broadly divided into three classes:

# 1 Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

It describes injuries associated with performing the same repetitive task, especially in an awkward posture, over a prolonged period.

# 2 Back problems

The human body is not designed to remain in the same position for a long time. Prolonged sitting leads to fatigue, discomfort and injury. Back problems are also worsened if the user has a low general level of fitness.

# 3 Eye Strain and Discomfort

People who use computers for an extended periods of time can suffer from tired eyes, discomfort, headaches  and reduced work performances.

Tips to prevent computer repetitive strain

# 1 Sitting Posture

When muscles are contracted or in awkward positions for a long periods of time, they do not receive the blood supply needed to sustain them. That is why changing positions, stretching and exercise are good pain prevention tactics. Alternating tasks the use different muscles groups is another good strategy. Regular Breaks: Every hour or so, get up from your desk.

Regular stretching exercise will stimulate blood flow and help prevent the build up of aches and pains. Anything that breaks up the work repetitiveness will reduce fatigue and refresh the body mentally and physically.

# 2 General Aches and Pains

If your shoulder hurts, chances are your computer mouse is positioned far from the keyboard. Move the mouse so that it is next to the keyboard. If it is your your neck, then most likely your computer monitor is at the wrong height. If your wrists hurt, your hands and wrists are typing at the wrong angle

Adjust your keyboard so that it is lower than your desktop. if your index finger hurts or becomes numb, you are over-using the mouse. Try to use the number keyboard sometimes instead of clicking on numbers with the mouse

# 3 Computer monitor

Adjust your monitor to reduce glare (or dimness). If word processing or accounting tasks are the main chores, then 17-inch LCDs or 19-inch CRT are fine. Graphics work is more visually intensive and requires a bigger screen.

Eye breaks should be taken every 15 minutes. Prolonged screen stare can lead to a drop in blink rate causing dry eye. Blink your eyes rapidly a few times to keep them moist.

# 4 Desks and Chairs

Chairs should be height adjustable with padded backrests. The seat area should be large with enough room on either side of the user's hips. Most desks are 28-30 inches above the floor. This is the proper height for writing, but is improper for computer work.

To work around this, the keyboard and the mouse should be lowered. Adjustable keyboard and the mouse trays are easy to install on the undersides of desks. The keyboard should be at a negative tilt, with the front edge slightly lower then the rear.

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