The following suggestions are offered as ways to reduce the daily load on repetitive strain injured limbs. These come from personal experience, and although some may seem obvious, you might find something that you could use in your situation.
- Get a dictation machine, claiming that you need it because of your present incapacity, and dictate your letters, minutes, etc. and get a typist or secretary to type these things for you.
- Delegate data inputting to other members of staff, if you can.
- Take great care with the intensity and speed at which you work (work speed and productivity targets can be dangerous). You cannot expect to work at your previous speed and power (if you happen to be one of those people who has pounded at the keyboard, like I used to, you cannot do that now, and must touch the keys gently).
- Take frequent rest breaks away from the computer (these are vital).
- If you work with an application that enables you to write Macros (a set of instructions, similar to a program, but usually a lot shorter), then use its ability to carry out the repetitive commands you find yourself doing during the day. For example, in spreadsheet applications it is worth writing a Macro even for jobs that involve a minimum of 5 key depressions each time. Using a Macro reduces this to holding down a control key (Alt or Ctl depending upon the application) and pressing another – it may not sound like much, but it mounts up during the day.
- If you work with a graphical user interface (GUI) such as Windows, then type repetitive text into a notepad, or other word processor, and copy and paste in what text you need into the application that you are using.
- Again, if you are fortunate to be using a GUI (unless you hate them!), swop the mouse buttons over by redefining which is which in the control panel of the GUI when one arm gets tired so that you can give it a rest. Or get hold of a programmable mouse or touch-pad. Such devices are particularly good for “dragging and dropping” items in spreadsheet and drawing applications, where an RSI‘d arm can get tired very quickly.
- Set key definitions for commands and character strings in applications that allow it, and this can also be done using the operating system (if you don’t know how to do this, ask someone who does).
- Use batch routines that are offered by the program you use to get the computer to deal with repetitive text; write such things in yourself, or contact your support people who can put you in touch with a programmer who can do this.
- Ask your employer to hire or purchase an ergonomic keyboard, voice activated software, or other items on the market that you think would help you. Although these are more expensive than commonly used devices the employer would be saving money otherwise lost through sick absence, and this could be mentioned as an incentive to a reluctant employer.
Adopt whatever works best for you. I hope these help.