Question: I have ordered a wrist strap with magnets inside and was wondering if anyone thought they helped at all?
Answer 1: I got a magnetic bracelet and was quite impressed with its effect; having said that, I would now sound word of warning. I think that the major part of its effect is pain killing, although I may have derived a small amount of more permanent benefit. Within hours of putting it on, my right hand felt normal for the first time in about five months. This was wonderful, but had the inevitable effect of encouraging me to do more than I could get away with leaving me with more severe and more continuous pain when I tried taking it off a week later. While I’m writing, I may as well introduce myself: having used computers for almost 20 years (I’m 28), I started to experience mild pain on the back of my hands and numbness in my ring fingers and middle fingers (starting in both hands at pretty much the same time. I try to avoid using the mouse so I’m not terribly surprised by the symmetry) within a week of moving to a new job last October. I immediately went to my doctor, who diagnosed me with tenosynovitis and prescribed me some anti-inflammatory if only I’d known! I was hospitalized with adverse reaction about a month later and my stomach still has not recovered completely. I was then sent to physiotherapy. The therapist did seem to know quite a bit about RSI (at this stage I was reading Pascarelli and Quilter). She discharged me just before Christmas on the grounds that I knew enough to control the pain. I was taking regular breaks and doing a range of exercises, the most effective of which seems to be the contrast baths.
My employer has bought me Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which does a pretty good job although I can’t say that I’m impressed with their technical support: I twice lost data due to crashes which I’m fairly convinced are due to Dragon, and their response was that unlike any competent editor they provide no crash recovery facility from the Dragon window and that my Toshiba portable was incompatible with their software (on the basis that they haven’t tested it and that they received one other complaint) so it’s not their problem. Why don’t I try reinstalling? Grumble. It doesn’t half eat memory though. Off my own bat I’ve purchased a Kinesis keyboard with Dvorak layout; I think these are great, but very stressful and difficult to learn with RSI, and being a touch typist for over a decade, relearning my keyboard layout has been hell – I’m pretty fluent now, 10 weeks on. Also got a Cirque CruiseCat to replace my mouse; unfortunately it doesn’t work at all well with Linux, my platform of choice. It works reasonably well under Windows NT (the platform under which I use Dragon), although there’s a lot of room for improvement in the driver, which seems shoddily written to me. The ‘Cat is a lot lighter on my hand than my Logitech mouse, particularly because of its scrolling support and web browser history slider. Bought both of these through my brother while he was on a visit to America: much cheaper.
My RSI so far is completely restricted to my hands and wrists, and manifests mainly as numbness or slight tingling in my fingers and for want of a better word -“sparkling” pain on the back of my hands. I also suffer from numbness in my arms when I raise them above my shoulders, although my doctor seems to think that this is a separate issue related to stress (of which I have a lot from an external source). I haven’t really found anything in the literature which seems to describe the symptoms and would be curious to hear if anyone else has them too. Back to the bracelet: it seems to have had quite a long-term effect on the numbness in my right ring finger (this has not returned since wearing it), but the pain came back pretty quickly after stopping wearing it (I stopped about a week ago). Although I hate having my hands feel “wrong” like this, I think now that I prefer to be reminded about it so I don’t overstretch myself.
Answer 2: Dragon Systems have a compatibility list of (laptop) computers (etc.) which they have tested. When they say “compatible” that is what they mean. Of course there are computers (etc.) that are not listed but are compatible. I suppose your “crash recovery” point refers to the fact that NaturallySpeaking’s text editor has no auto-backup system. That has not been a problem for me, but I can see that if you often get crashes it is. I would suggest you post full details of your problem to the Dragon Users Forum, http://www.nuance.com/ or to one of the voice-user lists (see the RSI-UK web pages), or to computer speech users
Answer 3: I find they help with localised wrist/thumb pain, but not at all with diffuse arm pain.