f. Treatment and Recovery. This is a murky area. While workstation
improvements can help alleviate symptoms, long-term recovery is more elusive. A
leave of absence from work may be recommended to eliminate the conditions that
caused the illness in the first place. Many times surgery is needed to correct the
problem. Once the employee returns to work, the same conditions that caused the
original problem prevail. A news reporter took a 10-month leave of absence due to
neck, shoulder, forearm, and back problems resulting from repetitive strain injury. The
cause was constant note taking and typing. Her doctor advised her she might never
recover that she might have to change careers. Thus, a seemingly minor ailment like
RSI can have an enormous impact on one's life. The reporter, who continued in her
chosen career, coped by setting quotas for what she could handle each day. For
example, if she did too much note taking, she could not do dishes that night.
g. Preventive Measures. Preventive measures can help to some extent. Here
is a quick list.
Keep wrists neutral--don't bend or twist wrists for extended periods.
Minimize repetitive movements and holding onto objects.
Reduce the speed of forceful repetitive movements.
Use the whole hand to grasp objects, not just the thumb and index finger.
Take breaks--switch hands and tasks.
Do conditioning exercises.
Figure 4-5. Preventing repetitive strain injury (RSI).
4-21. VIDEO DISPLAY TERMINAL FATIGUE
a. General. Over 75 percent of computer users report some form of visual
discomfort as a result of VDT use. With over 50 percent of American workers and 40
million homes slated for computer use by 1990, VDT fatigue will become an issue of
increasing concern, for both users and employers. Video display terminal fatigue
causes eyestrain. Symptoms can range from headache, blurry vision (both distant and
close-up), and double vision, to general eye fatigue. The eyestrain is caused by tired
eye muscles and mental eyestrain (a tired brain). The eye muscles most affected by
the close work (3 feet or less) involved in reading, writing, and VDT work are the medius
rectus and the lateral rectus muscles. Also affected by close work are the ciliary
muscles that focus the eye's lens. Between the ages of 35 and 45, as the aging
process sets in, the lens of the eye gets rigid, making close work harder. (This
ultimately leads to a need for bifocals or reading glasses.)