Today, in recognition of International Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day, the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) is leading the charge against RSIs at their 14th annual International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day event in Toronto, Canada.
The event, which is open to registered attendees across the globe, details the dangers of RSIs in the workplace and educates workers in a variety of fields on RSI prevention.
The issue is serious for those of us working with CAD programs on a daily basis—and for other workers who frequently use a computer—because RSIs are often caused by extensive computer use.
So, just what is repetitive strain injury? And how can frequent CAD users prevent it?
What is Repetitive Strain Injury?
Stiffness. Swelling. Aches and pains.
These aren’t just run-of-the-mill consequences from a long work day. They’re also indicators of repetitive strain injuries. Repetitive strain injury refers to a collection of ailments caused when too much stress and pressure are put on the body’s muscles, nerves and tendons.
Unfortunately, too many people believe these aches and pains are simply a byproduct of everyday life. In reality, RSIs are serious health issues that often grow worse over time—leading to increased pain, lost productivity, even more serious conditions (like carpal tunnel syndrome) and, in some cases, forced retirement.
This makes RSIs a serious consideration for anyone who uses a computer—and CAD designers and engineers in particular.
CAD Design and Repetitive Strain Injuries
We love 3D designs and the freedom of creating physical objects using only our imaginations and some killer technology. However, that takes time. A lot of time.
According to a survey conducted by Technology Assessment Group, 41% of CAD design engineers surveyed spend 5 to 8 hours a day using CAD-related applications. A full 17% use CAD for 9 to 12 hours per day.
That’s some serious time spent on design work. When that time is spent designing with a traditional mouse and keyboard combination, the odds of pain, discomfort and even RSIs increase.
In fact, 46% of survey respondents in a study conducted by VSI Risk Management and Ergonomics, an independent ergonomics consulting firm, reported discomfort levels interfered with their job performance when they used only a standard mouse and keyboard.
The Ergonomic Benefits of a 3D Mouse
A 3Dconnexion 3D mouse is used together with a standard mouse or tablet in a balanced, co-operative and comfortable work-style. Using the 3D mouse controller cap, users can simultaneously pan, zoom and rotate their 3D content—while using the standard mouse to select, edit and create.
Compared to simply using a one-handed working style with a standard mouse, this two-handed work method reduces muscle movements and strain on muscles and tendons, which can cause or exacerbate RSIs.
Just how effective is a 3D mouse at reducing pain and discomfort? Check out these numbers from the VSI report:
- 97% of respondents to one survey reported decreased pain when using a 3D mouse.
- 61% of users reduced pain within the first month of using a 3D mouse; 77% reduced pain after six months.
- 96% of users studied think that returning to a one-handed working style with a standard mouse would cause an increase in pain.
3D mice don’t just reduce pain, they actually reduce the strain on muscles by significantly reducing the motions and clicks required when working in CAD programs. Another report from Ergonomic Technologies Corporation shows that using a 3D mouse reduced left hand motions by 67%. Right hand motions dropped by 64%.
In short, using a 3D mouse can go a long way toward reducing the strain placed on your muscles and tendons if you regularly use a computer.
CAD users in particular spend much of their time in front of a computer, which is why RSIs present such a threat to designers, engineers and architects. That’s why we here at 3Dconnexion are proud to support OHCOW’s celebration of Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day. Anything that raises awareness and reduces discomfort is a winning combination in our book.
For free downloads of the full reports mentioned here, check out these links:
- The Economic Payback of 3D Mice for CAD Design Engineers
- Reducing Physical Discomfort and Pain Among 3D Computer Users
- Ergonomic Efficiency Testing: Two-Handed vs. One-Handed CAD Working Styles
What are you doing to prevent RSIs in your workplace? Are you celebrating International RSI Awareness Day? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Beat Pain and Strain in CAD With This Guide
Aches and pains at the desktop are not normal and can lead to long-term repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). It also disrupts your productivity, creativity and even your career! The CAD Comfort Manual is a complete guide to address and prevent pain and strain from prolonged CAD work. Download it today to start working more comfortably in CAD.
Image courtesy of Jeremy Jenum via Flickr.