Recommendations for dealing with RSI at the Lab
compiled from a meeting of concerned Media Lab staff and students in
Suggestions for individual prevention
- Proper posture
- Take breaks from typing - and stretch during the breaks. Every
5 minutes if necessary; less for prevention and/or if symptoms are
- Type lightly
- To position fingers on keys, AVOID REACHING with you fingers.
Instead move your arm to position your hand.
- Become familiar with the various problems and symptoms
- Try to avoid mice, esp. mice w/more than 1 button
- Find the proper position for the monitor
- Keep arms and hands warm (also try keeping neck warm since
relaxed neck and shoulder muscles won't compress
the nerves going through the thoracic outlet)
- Use "vi" instead of "emacs" (i'm only 1/2 joking)
- type lower case
- Get enough sleep!
- One size does not fit all!!! Investigate configurable furniture,
keyboards, ETC. (see the rest of this document).
Suggestions for what the lab can do
- Get Lou diBeredinis to review how the workstations are set up
for all staff, faculty, RAs and in garden areas.
Also have him evaluate lighting - since poor lighting
can cause tension in head, neck and shoulders
- Buy a copy of the Pascarelli and Fowler book for each member
of the lab (staff and students, plus and extra copy
for each group).
- Buy [cheap] electronic timers that beep for everyone in the lab to
make them aware of the problem
Why external, ie., rather than a software timer? as
a visible reminder to those who have RSI and those who
- A supply of ibuprofen in each group's first aid kit.
NOTE: this is not so that people will take ibuprofen
in order to work, but after-the-fact, to relieve the pain
that comes from overworking. (Pain hurts). The
danger of taking painkillers and anti-inflammatories
is that they mask the symptoms and therefore the typist
will do further damage without feeling it. The pain
relief is for after typing and not before.
- Posters showing stretching exercises
- Get wireless headset phones or phone rests (whatever
works!) on an as needed basis for anyone else who
spends a long time on the phone and/or finds phone use painful.
Longer term, greater investment:
- In-house "ATIC" lab....room with all sorts of alternative
equipment and adjustable furniture that can be tried
out or used to finish up a thesis:
- Adjustable chairs
- Adjustable tables
- Adjustable work surfaces (e.g., Keyboard trays, tables)
in all the gardens (some evaluation necessary here)
- Monitor stands or adjustable-height desks for easy
adjustment of monitor height
- Phone rests
Wireless phone headsets
- Lending "library" of such equipment
- Replace generic work gear on and as needed basis, since
each person's needs will be different
- Use wider tables so that can get monitors farther away
- Give support staff time away from their work and their
- Evaluate equipment in the ATIC room
- Get trained on prevention and management of RSI, once
- PUBLICIZE THE LAB'S COMMITMENT TO PREVENTION AND
ACCOMMODATION. This will prevent people from thinking
it's their own problem, and continuing to work without
appropriate equipement and habits.
- PUBLICIZE THE CHANNELS BY WHICH STUDENTS AND STAFF
CAN OBTAIN THE EQUIPMENT, TYPING HELP AND INFORMATION
THEY NEED. This saves time.
More specifics on the equipment room / lending library
- Speech recognition:
- DragonDictate speech recognizer
- Thad suggested that someone could get BBN's HARK continuous speech
recognizer up to speed, but Sumit was skeptical that it could
handle larger vocabularies well
- Datahand, Twiddler, and "Comfort Keys?", Kinesis keyboards
(maybe others off the alternative keyboard web site ...can
find off http://wearables.www.media.mit.edu/projects/wearables)
- Click input:
- trackballs, trackpoints, alternative pointing devices
- moving mouse wrist supports
- moving arm rests (they attach to the work surface but
they require a stable surface. therefore keyboards trays
- borrowable heating pads in different shapes and sizes
(because some heating pads, esp. the moist microwaveable
kind are ~$50 - if they don't quite work out it ends
up costing a lot to find one that works).
- Adjustable furniture:
- wireless phone headsets, phone rests