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Ergonomic Tips: Personal Risk Factors

1. Wrist splints (wrist braces) are designed to stabilize the wrist and may help people suffering from an upper extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD). BUT, only wear a wrist splint under the direction of a physician.

2. Wrist splints (wrist braces) are designed to help people recover from CTDs, under the guidance of a medical provider. Wearing a wrist brace will not help prevent upper extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs).

3. If you are directed to wear a wrist splint by a physician, make certain you do not tighten the splint too much. This can increase pressure on the wrist area.

4. If you are directed to wear a wrist splint by a physician, loosen or remove the splint when you are not working at the computer.

5. Avoid wearing tight jewelry (watch, bracelet, etc.) around the wrist. This can increase pressure on the wrist area.

6. If you wear a neck tie at work, do not tighten the tie too much. This might increase headaches and make you less productive during the work day.

7. Avoid long fingernails if you spend considerable time at a keyboard. This may cause you to adopt awkward finger postures when typing.

8. Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes if you will either sit or stand during the day. Comfortable shoes are one of the best and simplest ways to minimize foot, leg and back fatigue across the work day.

9. Vitamin therapy (Vitamin B-6 and others) has been proposed as a remedy for upper extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorders. This is at best a controversial approach, and should only be used in conjunction with more widely accepted therapy approaches.

10. If you are pregnant, be sure to stand up frequently during the work day. The combination of sitting and the enlarged abdomen may hamper blood flow.

11. Some people have advocated that pregnant computer users should wear a lead apron to "protect" the baby from computer-generated radiation. There is little scientific support that computers generate radiation at any harmful level, and even less evidence to support the use of lead aprons as a protective device. In fact, the apron may do more harm than good.

12. Take advantage of Wellness Programs that might be offered by your company or other sources. A healthy lifestyle can ultimately reflect on health in the workplace.

13. Smoking has been associated with an increased risk of developing Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs). Take advantage of smoking cessation programs offered by your company or other sources.

14. Large caffeine intakes (e.g., coffee) have been associated with a small increased risk of upper extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs). However, caffeine intake has also been associated with improved performance across the work day. If you intake a lot of caffeine, try occasionally to drink something that is caffeine-free.

15. Obesity has been associated with increased risk of certain Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs), both in the upper extremities and the low back. Losing weight and improving fitness are good means to reduce CTD risk.

16. Remember that the same ergonomic risk factors that we try to avoid in the workplace may occur outside the workplace. Look at your off-work activities (sports, hobbies, etc.), and try to minimize ergonomic risk factors in these activities.

17. If you work on a computer at home, the same ergonomic issues apply as they do for your work computer.

18. It is critical that you identify CTDs early in their development, in order to most effectively address the problem. What are some of the warning signs associated with CTD development? 1) Hands or arms may tingle or burn. 2) Hands may feel numb. 3) You may have difficulty manipulating objects with your hands (your hands seem clumsy, you find yourself dropping things). 4) You find yourself shaking out your hands/arms during the work day. 5) You find yourself massaging your hands/arms during the work day. 6) You wake up at night with pain or numbness in the hands. 7) You feel that your grip is getting weaker.

19. If you need to visit a medical provider because of pain or discomfort, be sure to provide him/her with a detailed description of your job requirements. Make sure the medical provider understands the physical requirements of the job, so appropriate treatment can be specified. Ask your supervisor or on-site nurse if there is an ergonomic job description that you can take to the medical provider.

20. If you need to visit a medical provider because of pain or discomfort, be sure to provide him/her with a detailed description of your job requirements. Be prepared and able to show the doctor the types of motions and postures you are required to assume as part of your job.

21. If you need to visit a medical provider because of pain or discomfort, be sure to explain activities you perform outside of work that might be contributing to your discomfort. This might include knitting, sewing, woodworking, or more computer work

22. Always try to get a second opinion regarding a diagnosed CTD, especially if the medical provider is recommending something other than conservative treatment.

23. In many cases, conservative treatment of upper extremity Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs), including stretching and strengthening muscles, and changing how we work, can eliminate the need for surgery.

24. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be reliably diagnosed using several different diagnostic tools (nerve conduction velocity measurement tools, etc.). Be certain that your doctor has utilized one of these empirical diagnostic devices before being diagnosed as having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

25. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most reliably diagnosed using electromyography (EMG). EMG measures the speed with which an electrical signal passes between two specified points in the hand and arm. An EMG should always be performed before any surgical treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is performed.

26. When selecting a medical provider, be certain that he/she is familiar with upper extremity CTDs (causes, diagnostic procedures, treatment options). It is also good if the doctor is knowledgeable about insurance and workers' compensation issues.

Ergonomic Tips:  Introduction
Ergonomic Tips:  For Office Workers
Ergonomic Tips:  Workstation
Ergonomic Tips:  Physical Environment
Ergonomic Tips:  Psychosocial
Ergonomic Tips:  Materials Handling
Ergonomic Tips:  Vision & Monitors
Ergonomic Tips:  Personal Risk Factors

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