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RSI/MSD and Ergonomic Loan Scheme.

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Repetitive Strain Injury RSI/MSD.

The best advice anyone can be given with regard to RSI is "prevention is better than cure". However, should you be unfortunate and notice that you appear to be developing this condition there are several actions you can take to prevent it from getting any worse. You are advised to notify your line manager and get a workstation assessment carried out, so that necessary adjustments can be made to your workstation setup.

If that does not solve the problem, go to see your doctor and also arrange a referral to Occupational Health. You can either self refer or ask your line manager to do this on your behalf.  If the diagnosis is then confirmed, a course of physiotherapy may be suggested; you may also receive a recommendation to start using assistive technology. In extremely bad cases you may be advised to temporarily abstain from anything that aggravates the condition.

Ergonomic Equipment Loan Scheme.

If you want some advice on ergonomic equipment or wish to try out a different kind of keyboard, mouse or other assistive technology please contact the Disability IT Support Analyst. They have a range of equipment available for short term loan to try before you buy.

Some Advice on Posture, WorkStation Setup and Exercise.

Managing the Time Spent on Your Computer.

For PC and Linux

Workrave logo of a sheep UCL has included a program for staff use in order to help avoid the onset of RSI. The program is called Workrave and can be accessed from within the WTS managed system under: Start > Programs > Software S-Z > Workrave. This program has been specifically designed to remind the User to stop working on their computer, after a certain amount of time has elapsed, and to do some exercises by following a screen avatar.

Students and staff can download this FREE software onto their own laptops or home computers. Workrave can be configured to the user's own requirements and there are clear instructions on how to do this (including screenshot) on their web page.

For Macintosh

Temporary Conditions.

Making simple adjustments to your working practices can help considerably with temporary impairments. Using a combination of keyboard shortcuts and StickyKeys is an example of a simple adjustment.

Reducing the Use of a Mouse.

Keyboard shortcuts:  There are a huge number of keyboard shortcuts that can be used in any Windows program many of which you may well already know, i.e. [Ctrl+b] for 'bold'. In fact there are so many that no-one user would normally be expected to know them all. You might, therefore, like to increase your repertoire and download:


Menu Key:  There are several additional keys available on extended keyboards such as the [Start] key and the context sensitive menu key which is the equivalent of clicking on the right-hand side of the mouse. Using these keys will further reduce your use of the mouse.

menu key

The Menu key can be found on the left of the right-hand [Ctrl] key and when pressed will display the context sensitive menu. You can then use the arrow keys to move to the desired selection and press [Enter] to access the selected option.

Picture of keyboard with highlighted menu key


StickyKeys:  This is a name given to a setting that can be done within the Windows environment which allows the User to press one key at a time for "combination keys" such as [Ctrl+b], [Alt-f] or [Ctrl+Alt+Del].

StickyKeys is particularly useful if you are suffering from RSI when using a mouse. It is definitely worth learning to use keyboard shortcuts to reduce your mouse use. However, if you want to use a keyboard shortcut but find it difficult to hold down two or three keys at the same time, StickyKeys makes it easy. When a shortcut requires a key combination, the StickyKeys feature in Microsoft Windows XP lets you press a modifier key, such as SHIFT, CTRL, ALT or the Windows logo key and keep it active until another key is pressed. StickyKeys is also helpful when you want to type uppercase letters without holding down SHIFT while you press each letter key. For example, to type a capital A, you could press and release SHIFT, and then press and release the a key which would be one key depression less than if you were using the [Caps Lock].

Note: There is a watchpoint. The program is designed by default to let you know that you are using sticky keys by emitting a high-pitched 'squeak' even if you have the volume muted. Most people feel happier turning the sound notification off! The Quick Guide to using StickyKeys shows you how to do this.

If the information you are seeking is not given on this web page please contact the Disability IT Support Analyst.