Health Risks: RSI, CVS, and Cognitive Decline

A common occupational disease today is repetitive stress injury (RSI). RSI occurs when muscle groups are forced through repetitive actions often with high-impact loads (such as tennis) or tens of thousands of repetitions under low-impact loads (such as working at a computer keyboard). The incidence of RSI is estimated to affect as much as one-third of the labor force and accounts for one-third of all disability cases.

The single largest source of RSI is computer keyboards. The most common kind of computer-related RSI is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), in which pressure on the median nerve through the wrist’s bony structure, called a carpal tunnel, produces pain. The pressure is caused by constant repeti­tion of keystrokes: In a single shift, a word processor may perform 23,000 keystrokes. Symptoms of CTS include numbness, shooting pain, inability to grasp objects, and tingling. Millions of workers have been diagnosed with CTS. It affects an estimated 3 to 6 percent of the workforce (LeBlanc and Cestia, 2011).

Repetitive stress injury (RSI) is a leading occupational disease today. The single largest cause of RSI is computer keyboard work.
© Ian Allenden/123RF

RSI is avoidable. Designing workstations for a neutral wrist position (using a wrist rest to support the wrist), proper monitor stands, and footrests all con­tribute to proper posture and reduced RSI. Ergonomically correct keyboards are also an option. These measures should be supported by frequent rest breaks and rotation of employees to different jobs.

RSI is not the only occupational illness computers cause. Back and neck pain, leg stress, and foot pain also result from poor ergonomic designs of work­stations. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) refers to any eyestrain condi­tion related to display screen use in desktop computers, laptops, e-readers, smartphones, and handheld video games. CVS affects about 90 percent of people who spend three hours or more per day at a computer. Its symptoms, which are usually temporary, include headaches, blurred vision, and dry and irritated eyes.

In addition to these maladies, computer technology may be harming our cognitive functions or at least changing how we think and solve prob­lems. Although the Internet has made it much easier for people to access, create, and use information, some experts believe that it is also preventing people from focusing and thinking clearly on their own. They argue that ex­cessive use of computers (and smartphones—see the Interactive Session on Technology) reduces intelligence. One MIT scholar believes exposure to com­puters encourages looking up answers rather than engaging in real problem solving. Students, in this view, don’t learn much surfing the web or answering email when compared to listening, drawing, arguing, looking, and exploring (Henry, 2011).

The computer has become part of our lives—personally as well as socially, culturally, and politically. It is unlikely that the issues and our choices will be­come easier as information technology continues to transform our world. The growth of the Internet and the information economy suggests that all the ethi­cal and social issues we have described will be heightened further as we move further into the first digital century.

Source: Laudon Kenneth C., Laudon Jane Price (2020), Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm, Pearson; 16th edition.

2 thoughts on “Health Risks: RSI, CVS, and Cognitive Decline

  1. Cruz Ampy says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually suppose this website needs far more consideration. I’ll in all probability be once more to learn much more, thanks for that info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *