The best researched RSI Prevention Software Programs I’ve reviewed is RSI GUARD. It has consistently been shown effective in reducing the incidence of reported injury across the population of users.
One of the most repetitive activities we do in modern life is to strike a key on a keyboard. Although this doesn’t require a lot of force, repetition can exceed 100 times a minute – and force as a percentage of what is possible for the muscle, can be excessive due to poorly developed technique.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is essentially an accumulation of minor muscle/tendon stress over a period of time without our allowing enough time for the body to rest and recover.
Imagine a program that can measure the number of keystrokes over time. It also measures the force of keystrokes and the time not spent on the keyboard. Then it mathematically computes a “risk index” and schedules break times to allow the body the needed rest and recovery time.
Each person should be able to set it to fit their own needs. If work restrictions exist due to injury, the program should be able to assist in following them.
RSI guard was developed by Ron Goodman, a software engineer who was diagnosed with de Quervain's Tenosynovitis in 1998. His concept first led to a search of what was available at the time (nothing useful) and then to his initial program design.
RSI Guard includes a suite of helpful tools for the home or business computer user. There are separate applications that can transform this into an excellent tool for the ergonomics or safety professional.
RSI Guard Features
The Break Timer suggests breaks based on work intensity and your natural work patterns. You can set a minimum work time before a break will occur, and set the length of break you want. Unless you tell the program not to let you postpone a break, you can click a button to continue work. The Reminder will pop-up again when you pause in your work.
When a break is triggered, RSI provides a random selection from its video library of stretch exercises. These are nicely paced, although you may or may not want to use the same timing the video uses. Stretches should be entered slowly and held for 20 seconds or longer to be really useful. And the stretches are generally appropriate
If you are looking at the screen, you are not getting a vision break. For your eyes, you should vary your focal distance. Stand up, move to a spot approximately one foot from the window and look out at the distance for 5 seconds. Then focus on the window glass (or a spot on the glass) for five seconds. Then repeat this several times.
FORGET ME NOTS
The Forget Me Nots are nice little reminders for your posture and for work technique. There is a set included in the software. These pop-up at the beginning of the break.
In addition, there is a feature that allows you to create your own Forget Me Nots. This way they can focus on the things you want to be reminded of.
AutoClick is designed to reduce or eliminate mouse use. Mouse use, the grasping, moving and clicking, is frequently a cause of thumb issues.
This feature is optional. It simulates a mouse click whenever you stop moving the mouse.
Many people find it easy to learn and use AutoClick. If you have mouse-related discomfort or injury this can provide immense benefit. It can increase the amount of time you can work without excessive pain, and prevent further injury.
KeyControl allows you, without using your mouse, to open files or applications, type common text, or perform other repetitive tasks using a single keypress.
If there are particular keys or key combinations you frequently use that require awkward hand postures (such as Cntrl + V or B), KeyControl, KeyControl allows you to re-map the location of keys on your keyboard to more comfortable locations.
Any change of actual keyboard will affect more than just the key position. Keyboards have a great affect on mouse position and can result in changing visual distance to the monitor. The value of the KeyControl is that it avoids any of these issues.
However, the value of any key re-mapping depends on exactly what you do and how you use your keyboard.
WORK RESTRICTION MANAGER
This part of the Software should only be used is your doctor has formally limited the number of keystrokes or time that you may spend consecutively on the keyboard, or given you a daily total.
If you have actual prescribed work restrictions, you can enter them in the Work Restriction Manager. The breaks dictated by this piece of the software are less forgiving. After being postponed once, they may impose a break.
There are several Work reports and graphs available that can assist you in your self-evaluation of risk. There is one that tracks the number of times you hit specific letter, and the force you use on each letter. There is another report that tracks the number of times you postpone or cancel breaks. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
RSI Guard is a great tool for controlling computer stress. It’s available for loading on an individual computer using the link below. As well, businesses can order group licenses that can either be individually loaded, or can be placed on a server for company-wide use.