(web links, email lists, books, organizations)
Website last updated 6-10-2009
What is RSI?
Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) are a category of injuries to the soft tissue of the body caused by overuse or misuse. Soft tissue includes: tendons, ligaments, muscles, fascia, nerves and blood vessels. The parts of the body most often affected during office work and computer use are the neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.
There is a long list of specific injuries* that are RSIs, including tendinitis, thoracic outlet syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome. Often people have more than one RSI, and it can be difficult to accurately diagnose which specific RSI a person has. Symptoms of RSI include: tingling, numbness, pain, aching, swelling, and loss of strength and/or dexterity. Not everyone will have every symptom, nor is there a definite order in which people experience symptoms. Symptoms may not occur until several hours or even days after the activity which causes them. (Have you ever hiked a long way and not been really sore until the next day or two?) Pain is not always present in the beginning of an RSI, so do not wait until you are in pain to get treatment if you have other symptoms. These injuries, especially those aggravated by computer use, can become chronic, permanent, and very disabling.
Other names for repetitive strain injuries include: repetitive motion injury (RMI), repetitive motion disorder, cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), upper extremity musculo-skeletal disorder (MSD), occupational overuse syndrome (OOS) and overuse syndrome.
* carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical radiculopathy, computer vision syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, DeQuervain's disease, ganglion cysts, Guyon's canal syndrome - ulnar tunnel syndrome, lateral epicondylitis - tennis elbow, medial epicondylitis - golfer's elbow, myofascial pain syndrome, radial tunnel syndrome, Raynaud's disease (Raynaud's syndrome), thoracic outlet syndrome, tendinitis, tendonitis tendinosis, tenosynovitis, stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger, complex regional pain syndrome (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), fibromyalgia syndrome.
INJURED WORKER SUPPORT MEETINGS
(New format, replaces the former drop-in meetings) These meetings are scheduled by appointment, often held the first Wednesday of each month from 5:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., but other times can be arranged. Please call RSI Action at 617-247-6827 to set up a meeting. At these meetings, RSI Action volunteers answer questions and provide resources and support, including the opportunity to view our provider evaluation book, to people with RSIs or other workplace injuries. Discussion topics have included medical treatment, insurance/legal issues, and speech recognition software.
Most popular location (others can be arranged): 650 Beacon Street, Kenmore Square, Boston, 4th Floor, in the room to your left as you exit the elevator. This is close to the MBTA station at Kenmore Square, a few doors to the right of the Barnes and Noble bookstore. Served by the Green Line B, C and D trains and many bus lines. The MBTA web site is useful for trip planning: www.mbta.com. There is a paid parking lot on nearby Deerfield Street. Mapquest map: http://tinyurl.com/6rzwz.
PROVIDER EVALUATION BOOK
RSI Action’s book of user evaluations of health-care and other providers may be viewed by appointment at the MassCOSH office in Dorchester; call 617-825-7233 extension 10. You may also view it during the Injured Worker Support Meetings. If you have an RSI or other injury, we invite you to contribute evaluations of providers you have used; the forms are here.
We are an all-volunteer organization and welcome those who would like to contribute time and energy. Please contact us if you are interested.
We appreciate financial support for our work. Please make checks payable to MassCOSH with a notation that the funds are for RSI Action, and mail to the address below. Donations are tax-deductible.
Send e-mail to info at rsiaction dot org. Because of spam problems, please put "RSI Action" in the subject line; these will be the only e-mails we respond to. Our volunteers also periodically pick up and respond to voice messages left at 617-247-6827; voicemail is checked weekly, so you can expect a return call within roughly a week.
Please let us know if you would like to be on our low-volume announcement-only e-mail list for events and special announcements. Also let us know if you would like to be on our postal mailing list to receive the periodic MassCOSH newsletter that has a section on RSI Action, and other mailings from RSI Action.
Our mailing address is the MassCOSH office:
42 Charles Street, Suite F
Dorchester, Massachusetts 02122
To spread the word about RSI Action, you can download a flyer describing all of our programs by right clicking here.
If you have a repetitive strain or other injury, we invite you to contribute your evaluations of providers you have used to RSI Action’s book of provider evaluations.
Use the medical provider form for anyone who provides a healing or related service such as a doctor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, Tai Chi teacher, etc. Please indicate on the form if a doctor you saw was for a so-called “independent medical examination” (IME) or workers compensation “impartial” examination, or was a company doctor. Use the lawyer form for providers of legal services on such matters as workers compensation, Social Security disability insurance and long-term disability insurance.
If your physical condition permits you to write, it is easiest to print the blank forms and fill them in by pen. Filling them in electronically with a speech-recognition program is possible, but formatting spaces and tabs to preserve a clear layout can be cumbersome. Use as much space as you need; feel free to continue on additional sheets.
The forms are in rich text format (RTF), compatible with word processors and speech-recognition programs, and should print as a single page.
Please send the completed forms to our mailing address above.
From time to time, we invite the public to talks by experts. The most recent special event was a presentation of success stories by RSI sufferers who have successfully coped with their condition.
Other talks given previously:
Erika Waly Bourne, RN, CMTPT, Massage Therapist, spoke about medical treatments for RSIs.
William Troupe, Attorney-at-Law, spoke about the workers compensation process and reasonable accommodation.
An experienced user of Dragon NaturallySpeaking gave a talk and a speech recognition demonstration.
Neuromuscular Therapist Christina Abbott gave a talk on “Treatment and Self-Help for Repetitive Strain Injuries.”
Attorney Mala Rafik spoke on “Practical Considerations for Obtaining Long-Term Disability for People With RSI.”
Leading occupational medicine physician and researcher Martin Cherniack, MD, MPH, gave a talk entitled “Soft Tissues and Soft Diagnoses: Why pain or dysfunction doesn't always correspond with objective tests.” Dr. Cherniack is Director of the University of Connecticut Ergonomic Technology Center, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, and a Lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine. This event was co-sponsored by the Boston Albert Schweitzer Fellows Program.
We co-sponsored with EarthSave Boston a talk by Eva Selhub, M.D. on stress reduction and wellness.
We sponsored an evening program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. Judy Smith, Occupational Therapist at Spaulding’s Medford facility gave a talk on and demonstration of relaxation techniques for RSI.
Acupuncturist Elaine Walsh gave a talk about laser acupuncture. She conducted a study on the efficacy of cold low-level laser light therapy in treating mild to moderate carpal tunnel syndrome. For more information on this subject, see http://medicallasersystems.com/news.html.
RSI Action believes that every computer user has the right to:
· Work without pain
· Reasonable workload
· Workers’ compensation system that works
· Adequate breaks from computer use (at least 15 minutes every 2 hours, or 10 minutes per hour of intensive typing)
· Job design with a variety of tasks
· Ergonomic workstation
· Ongoing ergonomic training
· Access to adaptive-technologies & information
· Recovery from injury before returning to work at the same task
Copyright © RSI Action
OSHA Information on
computer ergonomics as of March 29, 2008:
The 1999 OSHA proposed ergonomic standard as published in the Federal Register # 64:65768-66078
Self Care for RSI, http://www.selfcare4rsi.com
Sharon Butler’s web site.
A wide variety of information, links to resources, a broad description of assistive products to reduce injury risk and symptoms.
Marxhausen’s RSI Information, http://eeshop.unl.edu/rsi.html
Prevention information, with pictures, mpeg videos, books, and links to bookstores for easy ordering.
RSI-Related Resources, http://www.scriven.com/RSI/RSIdata/rsidata.html
Excellent information about general, legal and medical issues, ergonomic equipment, speech recognition (including NaturallySpeaking macros), books.
RSI Information Page, http://web.mit.edu/atic/www/rsi/index.html
Links to resources at MIT and elsewhere, plus some basic information.
Disability Insurance, www.rosenfeld.com
Attorney Mala Rafik has posted materials on long-term disability insurance on the web site of her law firm Rosenfeld and Rafik.
RSI Action - updates on our Boston-area programs and related RSI events.
Low-volume mailing list; emails are infrequent.
To subscribe, email info at rsiaction dot org with your name and e-mail address. Because of spam problems, please put "RSI Action" in the subject line; these will be the only e-mails we respond to.
Sorehand - general list for sufferers of RSI. Website: http://www.sorehand.org/
This is the main mailing list about RSI. It is high-volume; emails are frequent. There is a searchable online archive of past messages. To avoid being overwhelmed with e-mails, after you subscribe you can set options noted in the listserv commands section of the web site. You can choose to get all the e-mails; if so, you may wish to set your e-mail program to automatically put Sorehand messages into a separate folder.
Users - for people interested in speech recognition
software. Website: http://www.bostonvoiceusers.org/
Boston Voice Users meets the second Tuesday of each month, 7:30 –9:00 pm at MIT.
To subscribe, go to: http://lists.harvee.org/listinfo/boston-voice-users and follow instructions.
Pascarelli's Complete Guide to Repetitive Strain Injury : What You Need to Know
About RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”
A 2004 update to his best-selling 1994 book “Repetitive Strain Injury: A Computer User's Guide.” Emil Pascarelli, M.D., is one of the world's leading experts on repetitive strain injury. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University in New York and Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Public Health at Cornell University. He has published articles on RSI in top medical journals. List Price: $17.95. Paperback: 272 pages. Publisher: Wiley, June 2004. ISBN: 0471388432
“It’s Not Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome,” by Suparna Damany and Jack Bellis
Jack Bellis writes, on his website http://www.rsirescue.com/ ‘When a physical therapist performed tests on me that my surgeon didn’t — before or after the operation on my ulnar nerve — and my symptoms returned in a few weeks, I decided that someone had to tell the story. With my therapist, Suparna Damany, I’ve written a book on the subject, entitled “It’s Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: RSI Theory & Therapy for Computer Professionals.” In the book and on this web site is what I learned about RSI, without embellishment or false promises, and with hard details--not just accolades--from other patients.” $19.95 list price. 234 pages. 2000. ISBN 0965510999.
“Workers’ Comp: A Massachusetts Guide” by Robert M. Schwartz
Work Rights Press, 2002. $6 for employees, unions and nonprofits. 800-576-4552. ISBN 0-945902-12-3.
The new edition of “Hurt on the Job: A Guide to the Massachusetts Workers Compensation System” has been published. This helpful book explains almost everything you need to know about what to expect from the Massachusetts workers compensation system and how to deal with it. The book also has a section on federal workers compensation. The book is available for $15. Send check or money order payable to Western MassCOSH, 640 Page Blvd., Suite 104, Springfield, MA 01104. Please include $2 for postage and handling. Call (413) 731-0760 for more information.
Downloadable Publications from the Mass
Department of Public Health web site
http://www.mass.gov/dph/bhsre/ohsp/ohsp.htm. Useful publications include the following:
· “Workers' Compensation Information Booklet”
· “Resource Guide - Occupational Health Information and Services in Massachusetts” (the MS Word version is 6 megabytes; can take a long time with dial-up.)
MassCOSH, http://www.masscosh.org, 617-825-7233
MassCOSH, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, brings together workers, unions, community groups, and health, safety and environmental activists to organize and advocate for safe, secure jobs and healthy communities throughout eastern and central Massachusetts. Through training, technical assistance and building community/labor alliances, MassCOSH mobilizes its members and develops leaders in the movement to end unsafe work conditions. RSI Action is a program of MassCOSH.
Easter Seals has a Demonstration and Loan Regional Center, http://ma.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=MADR_DLRC, where people with impairments can explore hundreds of devices that can meet a variety of needs, including computers with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This is a hands-on opportunity for you to learn more about different assistive-technology (AT) devices in order to make an informed choice about what will work best for you. The center has a short-term loan program that allows you to take the equipment home and try it out for two to four weeks, and a low-interest cash loan program is available for purchasing the AT equipment you need.
The Easter Seals Technology & Training Center is located in Boston one block from South Station at 89 South Street, 1st Floor. The Demonstration and Loan Regional Center (DLRC) is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 4:30. Please call 617-226-2634 or email email@example.com to schedule an appointment. The center has an open house the first Wednesday of every month from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Alliance for Injured Workers, http://www.afiw.org, 413-731-0760
A Western Massachusetts advocacy and support group for workers hurt on the job, affiliated with Western MassCOSH. Monthly meetings. Publishes the excellent free Injured Workers Survival Guide, focused on western Massachusetts, but containing statewide and national resources.
Job Accommodation Network, http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/
Job accommodations and the employability of people with disabilities.
A service of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Consulting service on questions related to
accommodation and to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Contact information (by telephone, e-mail, postal mail, and fax) is at http://www.jan.wvu.edu/links/contact.htm
Please send an email our way, to info at rsiaction dot org, to report broken links or any other suggestions. Because of spam problems, please put “RSI Action” in the subject line; these will be the only e-mails we respond to. We do not seek to put every RSI-related resource on this page; only the most comprehensive and helpful. We appreciate the feedback.
We are an all-volunteer organization, and a program of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH). We are the volunteer component of the former Coalition on New Office Technology (CNOT).
Since 1984, we have advocated for the health, safety and rights of workers, focusing largely but not exclusively on computer-related Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs). Our mission has encompassed support and resources for injured and at-risk workers, organization of injured workers, training of individuals and organizations on ergonomics and RSI prevention, and advocacy for change in public policy and workplace practices.
We are the continuation of the nonprofit corporation that operated CNOT and ceased operation in spring 2002 due to funding issues in a difficult economic climate. Over the years we have employed several names in addition to RSI Action and CNOT for our various functions, including Office Technology Education Project (OTEP) and Technology Education Clearinghouse (TEC).