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Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). ECE 417/617: Elements of Software Engineering. Stan Birchfield Clemson University. You are a computer athlete. A dangerous occupation:. Also dangerous:. Walk several miles on your fingertips?. What is RSI?. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

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Repetitive strain injury rsi l.jpg

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

ECE 417/617:Elements of Software Engineering

Stan Birchfield

Clemson University

You are a computer athlete l.jpg
You are a computer athlete

A dangerous occupation:

Also dangerous:

Walk several miles on your fingertips?

What is rsi l.jpg
What is RSI?

  • Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

    • is pain or nerve problems in upper extremity (hands, arms, or shoulders)

    • can also include neck and back

    • is a soft tissue disease (muscles and nerves)

    • is an overuse syndrome

  • Symptoms:

    • burning, numbness, tingling, pins-and-needles

    • dull aching OR specific, intense pain

  • Controversial:

    • many deny it exists

    • sufferers receive little support from employers

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The cost of RSI

  • $20 billion per year [Information Week, Nov. 9, 1992]

  • $29,000 average compensation

  • accounts for 60% of all job-related injuries [Department of Labor]

  • Approx. ¾ of all jobs require using a computer

Carpal tunnel syndrome l.jpg
Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a specific type of RSI

  • Swelling increases pressure on nerves to fingers

  • Problem is only in wrist

  • Most RSI is more widespread (neck, back, arms, shoulders)

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Bad posture



ulnar deviation


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Anatomy of hand nerves

brachial plexus

Thoracic outlet:

  • b/w collarbone and rib #1

    Brachial plexus:

  • braided nerves

  • also supplies shouder, neck, and arm muscles

Three nerves:

  • Medianthrough carpal tunnel

  • Ulnar“funny bone”

  • Radialextensor muscles




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Traditional solutions

  • Surgery

  • Wrist braces

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Pain killers

  • Cortisone shots

Why should you be cautious?

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Keep in mind

  • Long-term problem  long-term solution

  • The pain may move

  • Musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons, and bones) adapts

  • Body is meant to move

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Outline of a solution

  • Stretching

  • Movement

  • Strength

Also posture, massage, remove wallet from back pocket,hot/cold treatment, ...

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Computer vision

  • Symptoms:

    • Dry eyesNot blinking enough

    • Inability to focusComputer displays not crisp

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Final advice

  • You think RSI will never happen to you

  • When you start feeling pain, you will

    • ignore it

    • learn to bear it

    • expect it to go away on its own

  • When your pain disappears temporarily, you will think problem is solved

  • When your pain intensifies gradually, you will continue to ignore it until it is serious

     Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong! Be aware! Do not ignore the symptoms! Seek help when the pain first appears, before it becomes a serious problem!

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For further reading

  • Damany and Bellis,It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!

  • Pascarelli, Repetitive Strain Injury