Question: I have been asked to forward these messages to RSI-UK. They come from
a hospital anesthetist who thinks he/she has developed RSI.
Message 1: I was just browsing through the ‘net’ trying to find out about RSI. I am an anesthetist working in Hospital Theatres and I have been of work for some considerable time with a ‘frozen shoulder’. Would you have any information on injuries relating to repetitive use of heavy anesthetic equipment? And in general repetitive strain due to the great physical demands of my job? I injured myself whilst pulling a 250 kg anesthetic Trolley. This is a very brief explanation, but I would be very grateful of some advice.
Message 2: Thanks for your prompt reply, it was very helpful. I am not so worried about the treatment aspect of things, but rather the causes of RSI. I work with the daily handling of patients and cumbersome anesthetic machines and equipment whilst adapting awkward positions. Over the 20 years of being an anesthetist, could this in any way be classed as RSI damage, and finally resulting in an injury whilst pulling the 230kg machine? In your article you did mention that there were other causes for RSI other than using computer keyboards. I would be grateful if you could forward this query on to RSI-UK.
So, has anyone come across, or suffers from, RSI as a result of moving heavy equipment. Or any other comments?
Answer 1: Depends on your definition of RSI‘s :- (Most definitions here say “work related, upper body parts, from activities done with static posture”; that would possibly make it a RSI). But there are shoulder structures involved in pulling / pushing that could lead to similar injuries as repetitive light work. It also depends on the rest of the activities (above shoulder height, repetitive etc.). E.g. Rotator cuff type problems are known to be able to lead to frozen shoulder (which indeed is a serious injury). These types of problems appear in RSI‘s as well as in other types of injuries. The right diagnosis is much more import than the classification.
Answer 2: I don’t think this sound like RSI. It sounds more to me like one of the classic manual handling accidents which the NHS excels at producing. There is a requirement for assessment of manual handling tasks to prevent (as far as is reasonably practicable) injuries from manual handling under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. This should take movement of trolleys into account, as well as the individual’s capabilities. I should talk to the Trust’s Safety Adviser (and probably the Union too).