Friday, January 12, 2007

Sprain and Pain Wane: Carpal Tunnel Scare Over?

Is CTS the treat we thought it was? ...

"Whatever happened to carpal tunnel syndrome? There was a time in the late 1980s and early '90s when carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) haunted newsrooms and executive suites alike with the specter of longtime copy editors succumbing to lifelong crippling pain, or reporters -- their arms wrapped as they recovered from uncertain surgeries -- struggling against deadlines with the era's sluggish voice-recognition software. In the conventional wisdom of the time, the computer keyboard and mouse that had revolutionized newsroom workflow insidiously threatened to strangle productivity one tingling hand at a time.

Reporting in 1991 on what was billed as the newspaper industry's first conference devoted solely to the problem of MSDs -- then called RSI, or repetitive strain injury -- an E&P article warned of growing legal and medical liabilities for newspapers. Worse, the story added, there was no known cure for RSI.

And then, just as suddenly, all the furor over carpal tunnel syndrome and other MSDs went silent. Nowadays, the Newspaper Association of America no longer monitors MSDs in newsrooms. On the union side, the Newspaper Guild's national expert on MSDs retired years ago and was never replaced. Even the federal government's workplace health research arm, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has stopped tracking CTS, a spokesman says: "The last stuff we have (on CTS) dates back to that era, the 1980s and the 1990s."

So what happened? To many newspaper chains, what happened was a not quite complete victory of ergonomics over the disorders, a kind of elimination of polio without the March of Dimes. But the top safety and health official for the Communications Workers of America says the newsroom problems are continuing -- what's changed is the politics of the current White House, which has succeeded in hiding the issue by killing federal workplace ergonomic standards."    (Continued via Editor & Publisher)    [Ergonomics Resources]

CTS or No CTS? - Ergonomics

CTS or No CTS?

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Anonymous Ken Klages said...

Although increased attention to proper ergonomics has certainly helped, the problem is far from eliminated, as the volume of searches for the phrase carpal tunnel will clearly demonstrate. What the situation has needed in my opinion is some fresh approaches.

As a web designer, I spend way too much time at the computer and I recently discovered a site with a really interesting approach to prevention and possibly reduction of symptoms (for me at least) from wrist pain, back pain and neck / shoulder pain - all of which had been a problem for me.

Desk-Trainer is a site that uses a Flash-animated "personal trainer" to guide you through a series of 5 minute desk exercises which are designed to target specific areas. My personal experience has been very positive in terms of actually eliminating the wrist pain problems I used to have.

This site also apparently has a version of the system for deployment on corporate networks to help progressive companies keep their employees more protected from RSI-type complaints. This system has worked well for me, and they report feedback from their users is extremely positive, so if you have any wrist or back pain issues, you might want to check out the free demos on the site.

12:39 AM  

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