Repetitive Stress Injury
The huge success in the past few years of the BlackBerry and other personal digital assistant (PDA) devices has led to a new injury. Margot Miller, a physical therapist and president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Occupational Health Special Interest Group, indicates that BlackBerry thumb is “a catch-all phrase for repetitive stress injury, causing pain and/or numbness in the thumbs and joints of the hand.” Swelling, hand throbbing, and tendonitis are among the symptoms associated with using the thumb for composition of e-mails and prolonged instant messaging.
Adding salt to already existing wounds (literally), the House, the Senate and President Bush all voted in March to repeal former-President Clinton’s ergonomic regulations that specifically addressed repetitive stress injury and debilitating ergonomic injuries (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome) affecting nearly 1 million Americans. Former-President Clinton’s ergonomic standard, issued in November 2000, would have protected as many as 500,000 work-related injuries per year and would have covered more than 100 million workers.
Colleen entered massage school with all the hopes and dreams of someone searching for the perfect, mid-life career change. She simply wanted to help people, while making a decent living in the process. Little did she know the repetitive use injury she would fall victim to began early in her training — while she was still attending massage school. Unfortunately, as a new massage therapist, Colleen could help her clients’ pain, but she didn’t have the knowledge necessary to remain pain-free herself.