Archive for June, 2008

Film theraphy

Sometimes when I am feeling particularly elderly with my achy body all I can do is lay down and this kind of getting rather boring. As a result I find myself listening to more radio shows or podcasts and watching far more films. I would watch more TV except its rubbish! One of my friends mailed me a link to a clips site he found which appeared to contain many public domain films. Some of them were terrible, but others werent that bad at all and was okay to pass a couple of hours with. Another site I often is the film archive which has some public domain movies. Theres an awful lot of rubbish out there!

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Interestingly, I read an article in the daily Mirror and the other day discussing the large increase in the number of suspected RSI cases being reported within UK offices. The report showed that roughly two thirds of workers were suffering from some sort of repetitive strain syndrome and that out of those reported cases to HR 68% of complaints were not acted upon at all. I find is absolutely stunning sinse is obvious that UK business practices are causing significant problems with individuals but we shall be made to overwork in unhealthy work environments. Having a good working environment isn’t just about being in a nice building, in fact a crappy building would be preferable if it meant the company was able to spend a bit more money on getting the ergonomics sorted out for their individual employees.

I have been to businesses and companies which clearly don’t take repetitive strain injury seriously and they often think that the well-designed workstations are the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately they are designed to be pretty and not economical, resulting in the same number of injuries as that would have occurred without the less beautifully designed workspace. One office I visited for example actually was really chuffed to show off their one piece of ergonomic equipment; and vertical mouse. The point being that it should be standard equipment for everyone and employees shouldn’t have to wait to get injured before being allowed to have the proper equipment in order to do their jobs properly without being hurt. Without proper tools how is anyone able to do their job long-term when the risk of injury is so great.

In India for example it is commonplace that employees last between 12 and 18 months in information technology and call centre environments due to their appalling working practices. People were finding themselves working extended hours for very little pay; 60 hours plus a week is not uncommon. The human body just isn’t built to do this amount of repetitive work seated in one position for that length of time and so it’s not surprising that there is such a massive increase globally in repetitive strain. It is estimated that a third of all Indian office workers suffer from RSI or a similar musculoskeletal injury related to their work. There’s a huge medial industry dedicated to helping those with these problems and the number of clinics who have very varied results. In essence, many of the treatments would not stand up to clinical testing and verification.

What we’ll need to realise no one really knows what causes repetitive strain and they’ve isn’t a single treatment that suits everyone. It seems to me that everyone has to try and find their own path, which isn’t very logical or clinical. When the treatment works for one person but not another it suggests that there might be several unknown conditions contributing and we need to concentrate more resources on diagnosing each individual condition and therefore specific treatment. The alternative is that the placebo effect is stronger in some than others. It is a powerful medicine in that some people can merely wished themselves better with the right positive mindset. My thoughts on this is perhaps because we expect ourselves to get better by having the treatment then therefore we do. It’s often said if he can keep patients happy then they will improve faster. I wonder if this is what is going on when some people have treatments that do not benefit everyone?

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Its been quite a while since my last post here. I haven’t forgotten about this blog and its certainly isn’t abandoned. I started to find though that perhaps I didn’t want to talk about all my aches and pains every day. Some people have suggested to me in the past that we can become semi-obsessed with our pains and get more sensitive the more we think about them. There may be some truth as I know sportsmen use similar tricks, though there is one very serious difference – This training isn’t causing long term damage to the body, but instead deliberately causes short term damage in order to build new muscle. The sort of damage repetitive movements cause isn’t healthy damage and so I feel the old ‘ignore the pain and get on with it’ can only be used as apart of an overall treatment plan.

I have totally given up with my GP and the NHS. My GP seems to be only interested in patients whose solutions include shovelling pills down your throat or referring you onto to someone else. After going through that process, they just shrug and say “learn to live with it”. The thing is I was learning to live with it for the 5 or 6 years previously when the last time he ignored me. What changed in between was that there was a Carpel Tunnel operation available under the NHS which means GP’s get paid ALLOT for referring a patient to that service. I am very cynical about GP’s as I don’t see them as real doctors but instead just businessmen who are only on the look out for themselves.

The bit of physiotherapy that was available to me on the NHS was more like being taught how to correct my posture rather than much hands on stuff. There was sometimes sessions involving trigger point therapy, but most of the time it was just monitoring. It helped a little, but it was really slow to respond. As soon as the therapy stopped the RSI just reverted back to before.

I’m at the stage now where I can type a bit, but I am very slow and have to take lots of breaks. I’m not just slow in my typing (comparably speaking) but also in allot of things I do. I just can’t seem to think or move at the same pace I used to. Many things have changed, often supple in their nature that I find difficult to explain to other people. For example, my balance can be a little bit iffy whilst out walking or in the shower.

I have been trying to correct my posture by sitting up straight, walking tall and pulling my shoulders back. This has seen some changes in pain, but its just as bad as its ever been. Its just moved to different locations and sometimes its FAR worse. Since I am correcting the posture, the objective is to take the pressure off the upper spine by developing the lower muscles. The problem with this at the moment is now not only does the upper back hurts like hell, but now the lower back does to. The problem with the lower back is even causing my left foot to twitch entirely independently whilst I am in bed. My left foot even wakes me up as i literally kick myself in the night!

I do think fitness has a large part to play in any recovery and I do think the only time I would see a complete recovery would be if I could avoid using computers or driving all together. The problem is that the western society, especially work appears to be geared entirely towards being able to type for work despite all the adaptive technology that is available. There’s a zillion ways to set up a computer to accept input from other than keyboards which won’t mean that workers don’t get repetitive strain, but do UK businesses look into such thing, no of course not. Its much cheaper to destroy the lives of their employees after all and then get some new ones when they are knackered. I do regret getting involved with computers and would had preferred a life as a Fireman as its so much safer!

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