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An Ounce of Prevention: RSI Guard Helps Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries

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I was cautioned by my osteopath to periodically do exercises while taking breaks from keyboarding. He even recommended a specific software. Upon inquiring, I found that although my company didn't cover that software, it did have RSI Guard on its requisition list.

RSI Guard (RSI stands for repetitive strain injury) will time your work and give you the option to take a break. You can adjust the intervals between breaks and the time of the break. If you're in the middle of something, you can postpone the break for 2 or 10 minutes and even skip the break altogether. Skipping is, of course, not highly recommended.

RSI Guard will also track of your mousing and typing. In my case, extensive mousing due to poor programming of the company software led to repetitive motion injuries to both hands. So currently, I use RSI Guard to keep track of my doctor prescribed breaks. RSI Guard will show various exercise do to during your break and suggest that after the exercises you walk around. Good idea since sitting at the desk for long periods is more likely to lead to blood clots than long airplane flights.

RSI Guard also has other features. You can use the autoclick feature although you might start slow. In the beginning, you are likely to place the cursor and rest and suddenly you've popped over, closed or done something you never meant to do. Once you get used to it, you can increase the pause time given before the software autoclicks. In addition, you can program in double clicks quite easily. I've used my numeric keypad for double clicks and have programmed in two hotkeys to get me quickly to frequently used URLs using my function keys.

Through my company, the RSI Guard is $50 charged to my department but costing me nothing. You can buy it online but as in the case of most companies, you'd need permission to install it on your work computer.

In any case, many state have laws and regulations regarding ergonomics and preventative measures. Software programs like RSI Guard help you track your state-mandated breaks and the small screen comes up to show your managers that you are in fact taking your break and not goofing around. It's odd that this isn't required software or that this functionality isn't integrated into various desktop software packages like Microsoft Office. Hopefully more proactive companies will adopt RSI Guard or similar programs to help prevent repetitive motion injuries.

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