Information Services Division


Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)

Repetitive Strain Injury RSI/MSD

The best advice anyone can be given with regard to RSI is that "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.

Please view the following film, produced by two UCL students, Richard Kendall and Lewis Hopper, talking about living with RSI.

Guidelines for Staff

Staff 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, please visit your GP, and 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 severe cases, you may be advised to temporarily abstain from anything that aggravates the condition.

Guidelines for Students

If you are an undergraduate or taught postgraduate student, please discuss potential adaptations with Student Support and Wellbeing, as they should be able to provide you with more tailored help and advice.

If you are a research postgraduate student, you qualify for undergoing a workstation assessment, which your supervisor should be able to help you organise.  Your department should then be able to acquire the recommended adaptive equipment for you.  Please contact the Disability IT Support Analyst if you require further information or advice.

Ergonomic Equipment Loan Scheme

If you need advice on ergonomic equipment, or would like 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, so you can "try before you buy".

Advice on Posture, Workstation Setup, and Exercise

Managing the Time Spent on Your Computer

For Windows and Linux

Students and staff can download this FREE software onto their own laptops or home computers.

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. 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.

This is also available on Desktop @ UCL under: Start > Programs > Software S-Z > Workrave

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 Mouse Usage

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, find the following links useful:

Menu Key (Windows)

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.

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.

Windows keyboard…

StickyKeys (Windows)

  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.

Also please see our page on downloadable apps to support you for further information.

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