Wondering who’s going to be the next Kindle millionaire? Working hard to give it your best shot?
Well, be warned you could be doing yourself some harm. So heads up.
How many hours a day do you sit hunched over your computer, fingers going nineteen to the dozen racing to get down your ideas, doing research, blogging, or boosting your author’s profile on social network sites.
If you work it out, it can be a frightening number.
Have you ever felt a twinge of pain in your hands, wrists or arms? If so beware because it could be the onset of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
I know because I suffer from the condition commonly known as work-related upper limb disorder.
For more than 30 years, I pounded first a typewriter then a computer keyboard, as a newspaper reporter. And if my hands weren’t hovering over a keyboard or holding a mouse, they were clenched in a fist scribbling down my indecipherable shorthand.
RSI is the term that describes the pain from muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse. The condition mostly affects parts of the upper body, such as the forearm, elbow, wrist, hands, neck and shoulders, causing pain, stiffness and swelling.
RSI is usually associated with doing a particular activity repeatedly or for a long period of time such as texting, using a game pad, speed cubing on a Rubik’s Cube, even holding a glow stick at a rave.
Symptoms can take months, even years, to appear. Initially, only a slight ache may be felt. As the problem gets worse, there's more marked pain while performing repeated activity – such as typing.
Other triggers can be looking down while reading, carrying heavy objects, sitting in the same position for too long, in fact many repetitive tasks.
Once the problem has become severe, you could feel pain most of the time, even with the slightest movement. And then mundane activities, like turning a key, chopping vegetables, pulling up a zip, combing your hair can be a pain nightmare.
In the UK, one worker in every 50 has reported an RSI condition. That’s something to think about.
But all is not lost. There are treatments out there. The most-often prescribed treatments for early-stage RSI include drugs such as anti-inflammatory medications, splinting and massage.
Low-grade RSI can sometimes resolve itself if treatments begin shortly after the onset of symptoms. However, some RSIs may require more aggressive treatment including surgery and can persist for years.
So if you feel a twinge in your arms, wrists or hands while hammering at the keyboard, take time-out. Since workstation design often contributes to RSI, you may need to make some adjustments. Take more breaks, make sure you are sitting up straight at the keyboard, don’t slouch, perhaps you need a better chair.
There are several kinds of software designed to help RSI. Among them is speech recognition software. This technology can translate spoken words into text. Some SR systems use "training" where an individual speaker reads sections of text into the SR system. These systems analyze the person's specific voice and use it to fine tune the recognition of that person's speech, resulting in more accurate transcription.
But I am living proof that they are not 100%. I come from the North East of England where the local dialect is Geordie. In the same way that people from London are known for their Cockney accent and people from Liverpool for their Scouse accent, people in the Newcastle area are known to speak Geordie. Although I don’t believe I have a strong Geordie accent, take it from me the word recognition software I used didn’t talk Geordie and when I spoke into it, it wrote down gobbledygook.
Years ago I started writing a children’s novel but the pains in my upper limbs was so debilitating that I had to put the project on hold. It was just too much to use a computer during the day for my career as a journalist and then type at night. So the novel got put on a back burner. Recently I retired.I’m no longer doing shorthand and typing for my career so I’ve taken up where I left off and have published my debut novel, a children’s fantasy called ANTics.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to keep reaching for the stars.