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Medicine Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Study Says Repetitive Strain Injury Costs $600m 169

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the still-free-to-me-just-painful dept.
4roddas writes "Work-related RSI cases are at an all-time high and the cost to businesses is spiraling, new Microsoft research reveals. Repetitive strain injury cases have soared by over 30 percent in the last year, costing businesses over US$600 million in lost working hours — and causing pain and debilitating discomfort to over-worked staff. Microsoft claims the rapidly emerging trend of 'mobile working' — with office-based employees now working on the move for an average of an hour more per day than they did two years ago using laptops and mobile devices — is behind this alarming climb in work-related injury. The company arrived at its conclusions in a poll among over 1,000 office workers, HR managers and office managers. This showed that 68 percent of office workers suffered from aches and pains, with the most common symptoms including back ache, shoulder pain and wrist/hand pain."
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Microsoft Study Says Repetitive Strain Injury Costs $600m

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  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @08:22AM (#23666981)
    why would Microsoft fund this study?

    Dont you read /.?

    Yesterday they announced MicroSoft "Touch" - today they announce a reason to want it.

    Plus ca change...

  • Known cure (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @08:27AM (#23667047)
    The only known cure for "repetitive stain injury" is to take up embroidery (hand, not computer).

    The underlying cause of RSI is that you dont need to be very accurate to hit keys on a keyboard, and so you can be fairly indiscriminate about which keys you hit. The nerves all activate together, and, over a long period, you lose the ability to distinguish between nerve fibres.

    Enbroidery requires you to be very accurate, and you re-learn the use of the individual nerves.

    I leave google as an exercise for the reader, while I get back to my needlework.

  • by will_die (586523) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @08:41AM (#23667251) Homepage
    Correct.
    Here [microsoft.com] is the original article from Microsoft, most of it is an ad for thier products.
    One thing to note, Microsoft did not release this as a press release it is just part of the normal "Here is a way Microsoft can help you" marketing.
  • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker&gnu,org> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @08:42AM (#23667263) Homepage
    It's true that microsoft sells ergonomic keyboards [microsoft.com]. I think their most famous ones are the "split" or "natural hand" boards (that's the ones I know, and the names I know them under), i.e. the one I linked to.

    The problem is that it's not a good keyboard design. If we stick to a (roughly) flat board with buttons on it, you first of all want more space between the hands, since that's how you hold them naturally. Second of all, you want vertically aligned keys (the unaligned keys is a holdover from typewriter manufacturing constraints).

    Third of all, you want something that takes the shape and anatomy of the human hand into account. Your fingers don't have equal length. When you rest your palm, you tend to want to let your fingers "hang", being in rest at a lower place than the palm. Your thumb can do useful work besides just hitting the space bar.

    Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] has made a quite good keyboard [kinesis-ergo.com], taking the above considerations into account.

    If you want to move away from the board-with-buttons, I've heard many good things about the datahand [nongnu.org] (sorry, couldn't find a picture from the makers).

    On top of picking a good keyboard, you may want to pick a good keyboard layout. I'm very happy using dvorak, and I hear that people with RSI can type with less pain (some with no pain at all) on dvorak. Comparison: on qwerty, you move your fingers 15-20 miles per day, compared to 1 mile on dvorak for (I assume) the same workload.

    For a longer explanation about dvorak, see dv zine [dvzine.org]. It's in my experience well worth the time spent learning a new keyboard layout.

    So yeah, microsoft sells ergonomic keyboards, but you can get better elsewhere. I've tried both a microsoft ergonomic board and the kinesis, and the kinesis definitely wins any comparison hands down; except when you spill coke into one and not the other.
  • Re:Known cure (Score:2, Informative)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <<info> <at> <devinmoore.com>> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @08:47AM (#23667333) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but embroidery makes you go blind, so take your poison... if my hands quit working, i can voice control the screen and see the output still!
  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:17AM (#23667751) Journal

    Here is the original article from Microsoft, most of it is an ad for thier products.
    What, you mean the one line that says "Microsoft led the way in ergonomic design, having introduced the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard in 1994, and more recently the Natural Wireless Mouse 6000"?

    How on earth did that transform to 'most of the article' when you decided to point it out?
  • Dvorak v. Qwerty (Score:3, Informative)

    by hankwang (413283) * on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:49AM (#23668129) Homepage

    Comparison: on qwerty, you move your fingers 15-20 miles per day, compared to 1 mile on dvorak for (I assume) the same workload.

    The ratio is more like 1.7:1 according to this keyboard analysis on prose [siteuri.ro]. For 250 kB of text, you travel 6.3 km on Qwerty and 3.7 km on Dvorak (only horizontal travel counted). If you don't spend too much time thinking about what you write, you might be able to type that amount in 3 days or so, so 2 versus 1.3 km per day.

    (Happily using Dvorak since 1995)

  • Re:Known cure (Score:2, Informative)

    by Yxven (1100075) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @10:20AM (#23668587)
    I guess I failed the exercise.

    Searching for "embroidery repetitive strain injury" on google only finds articles on how to prevent developing rsi while doing needlework.

    http://needlework.craftgossip.com/rsi-repetative-stress-injuries/2008/03/05/ [craftgossip.com]
    http://www.punchneedleembroidery.com/pages/default.cfm?page_id=6180 [punchneedl...oidery.com]
    http://www.content4reprint.com/hobbies/arts-and-crafts/how-to-avoid-repetitive-strain-injury-rsi-when-cross-stitching.htm [content4reprint.com]

    So if you wouldn't mind sourcing your statement, I would appreciate it.
  • Re:Known cure (Score:2, Informative)

    by jadrian (1150317) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:19PM (#23674463)
    Bullshit. I had RSI I recovered. Also while there might be some truth to what you just said, trying to isolate _one_ cause is nonsense.

    It started slowly, bit of pain on wrist. Pain on neck, pain on back. Then it hit hard and fast. One day suddenly I started feeling pain shooting down may arm, stronger and stronger, it wouldn't stop. And it kept on going... for days. Even when that feeling stopped I couldn't even lift my arm to my chest. After some days I could move better, but typing immediately gave me pain. I couldn't type two lines without getting really serious pain. Clicking was impossible. I was just finishing my MSc thesis (just final touches), and was moving to the UK for a computer science PhD. This was around May 2005.

    Doctors in Portugal didn't do much for me. Already In the UK I paid an insane amount of money to see a private doctor, muscular skeletal specialist. He said he couldn't do much either. Suggested that I could try some drugs (usually prescribed for people with brain related problems) that could reduce nerve irritation. I didn't go for that.

    Today I'm perfectly fine. Typing this in my laptop right now. Not using ergonomic keyboards of any kind.

    Chiropractors (to aling my back, back and neck was all messed up), Massage (muscles were obviously all messed up too, plus relaxation is very important), Acupuncture and chinese herbs (hoping it would make my nerves heal faster, and also relaxation, beats me how much it helped).

    Combined that with personal improvement. Alexander Technique (to learn how to use myself, still doing it today), Yoga (Iyengar Style, still doing it too), also did some swimming, pilates, tai chi and chi kung, all quite nice.

    Note that I've done martial arts since young. That probably helped me recover too.

    Point is, you can recover from RSI.

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