computer hand strain

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Alan Kogosowski explains the new epidemic of the new epidemic of repetitive movement disorders that have hit the modern workplace: This traumatic event inspired Kogosowski to work as hard as he could to not only recover full mobility of his hand, but to understand its inner workings in such a way that he could master all the intricacies of the virtuoso piano repertoire of Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff, and not be limited in any way in bringing out all the beauties and nuances therein.
A concert pianist must practise a minimum of four or five hours a day in youth, frequently raising this to seven or eight hours at the height of his training. He must be able to play not only for long hours with difficult movements, but he must be able to produce enough sound and variations of sound to carry over an 80-piece orchestra.
The hand and finger movements a pianist learns are known as 'technique'.
It is a similar 'technique' that is required for the computer keyboard.
The pianist who has not assimilated the ''technique' and made it instinctive by his teens has little chance of having a virtuoso career. Even with this technique being long established, a great number of those who learn the piano do not assimilate it well enough to avoid RSI problems – mainly tendinitis and carpal tunnel complications.
Repetitive Strain Injury, as it is officially known, has many names, but basically it is the pain and possible partial paralysis of the hand and wrist that is affecting thousands and thousands of computer users at home and in the workplace.
The New York Times claimed several years ago that the average person faces a one-in-ten chance of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This figure has now greatly increased due to the exponential growth of computer use, and especially among those who work continuously with at a computer keyboard.
There are many therapists working to help with this problem, and many surgeons who step in when things get to a critical point, but it is much better to prevent the problem from arising in the first place, or, after it has appeared, to stop it.
Most people fall into the habit of employing the wrong muscles when they use their hands, thereby aggravating the carpal tunnel in the wrist.
Pianists have to get the use of their forearm, wrist and hand muscles right if they are to have an on-going career, but most pianists start so young that what they know about the anatomy and use of their hands is never really intellectualized. Even most teachers will show a young pianist what works from observation without really knowing why.
Just after my debut in London when I was twenty-one, I was involved in a car accident in which I broke the bones of four of the fingers in my right hand. The doctors told me that the only way to get the full use of my hand back was to exercise it – as much as possible.
Not only did I find the most difficult music ever written (the Transcendental Etudes by Liszt) and begin to play extremely slowly while my hand was still pinned with metal screws, but I studied carefully the muscles and tendons which should be used. This has ever since helped me in my playing, and in showing others how to overcome technical problems at the piano.
However, now I find that this knowledge is almost more valuable in helping those at computer keyboards. There are basic principles about how to use the hand without straining the long muscles that pass through the carpal tunnel. There are also important principles concerning the height each person should sit in relation to their desk or computer. There is also strain caused by clicking on the mouse, which can easily be addressed.
Computer keyboards cause the hands and fingers to stiffen in rigid positions which are a recipe for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tendinitis and RSI. The same is true of the common mouse. All computer users should be aware of these dangers. There are various aids, such as the foam rubber rest, which do help people to limit the problem of RSI, but these aids are a superficial and temporary solution, and they do not address the underlying problem.
This problem is ever-present when doing what a constantly repetitive movement for many hours every day on a less-than-ideal mechanism with a less-than-perfect coordination of the