List of repetitive strain injury software
The term repetitive strain injury (RSI) refers to injuries that result from repetitive activities (i.e. occupational disease). However, this article uses the term to refer to what would more appropriately be generally termed, injuries associated with computer use (i.e. computer vision syndrome).
Research on these injuries suggests the main causative factors to include:
- Long exposure periods
- Psycho-social factors
- Individual physiological factors
- Sub-optimal workstation ergonomics & body positioning
The relative ranking of how important each of these factors is, is still relatively controversial. Other articles may address this more directly.
This article discusses and lists specialized software that is available to aid individuals avoid injury or manage current discomfort/injury associated with computer use. Although the list is not complete, it does include several applications that have been in use for 10+ years.
Software solutions generally address 1 or more of these functional categories:
- Break reminder – Some tools remind you to take breaks based on factors like elapsed time, how much/intensely you are working, natural rest patterns, times of day, and more.
- Activity Mitigation – Some tools let you reduce the amount you need to type or mouse (e.g. speech recognition tools, automatic clicking tools, hotkey/macro tools).
- Tracking – Some tools track information like how long you work each day, break-taking patterns, repetitions (e.g. keystrokes, mouseclicks). Some tools have much more sophisticated statistics, including predictive risk assessments based on fairly sophisticated and research-based methodologies. Some tools also include discomfort assessments and reporting tools to help you find associative patterns between objectively collected statistics and subjectively reported discomfort information.
- Networking – Some tools are able to handle multiple-computer use (e.g. for profiles settings or for aggregating usage statistics) via networked data, including the ability to handle intermittent connectivity.
- Training – Some tools include a training component with information on topics including: workstation setup, body positioning, work-efficiency tips, psycho-social information, and more.
This can be an important component for many users. Considerations for selecting a tool include the mechanism the tools uses to decide when to alert you to take a break, how it tells you to take a break, and how flexibly the tool can meet your particular needs.
Many tools are simple timers (e.g. remind me to rest every 60 minutes). That may work well if your job requires constant and consistent computer work, but can be irritating if you don't work constantly on the computer because breaks will often be suggested when you weren't working much prior to the suggestion. Other tools consider your natural rests and delay break suggestions accordingly. Some tools also consider your activity, and will suggest breaks sooner/later during periods of intense/light activity. These tools can be less frustrating to people whose computer work is interspersed with other activity throughout the day.
The various mechanisms for reminding you to take a break can include visual and audio indicators, workflow limiters (e.g. popup windows, screen dimmers/blankers), and much more. The best tools allow you to select which of these mechanisms you want to use.
Flexibility is important since each person has different needs. Some tools have extensive customization capability that allows you to configure exactly how and when breaks will be suggested. Features to enforce breaks can also be helpful to people who want to take breaks but whose personalities are such that they have a hard time stopping work. Some tools have advanced features like the ability to block break suggestions during some activities (e.g. when showing a presentation, or in full-screen mode).
Applications with these tools seek to mitigate the impact of particular activities by either changing or reducing the associated exposure. This could involve changing or reducing input device use, improving a user-interface to reduce stress, speeding up a process to reduce the time a user needs to be at the computer, etc.
An example of a tool that changes the impact would be speech recognition. Speech recognition replaces keyboard (and sometimes mouse) input with vocal input. This type of solution can be very helpful at reducing some types of strain, but it's important to recognize that another significant strain may be created.
An example of a tool that reduces the impact would be a hotkey tool or automatic clicking tool. These tools ideally reduce the number of keystrokes and mouse clicks that a user need do to accomplish a particular task. You can find a list of software names in the category: personal computer automation software.
Partial list of solutions
This is an alphabetical list, This list does not rank application quality, nor is it complete. Many other applications exist. A "pages-of-Google-hits" score is provided with the reference to each program's home page.[a]
- Auto Mouse
- AutoMouse software lets users click their mouse using keyboard hotkeys. By eliminating the need to click the mouse altogether, the strain associated with clicking is also eliminated. For highly repetitive form-based computer work, AutoMouse can also click the mouse when the cursor stops moving (e.g resting a cursor on a button will click that button). As a result of its patent-pending design, there are no restrictions on mouse gestures such as drag-and-drop and repetitive-clicking. The mouse remains fully functional to the user but without the need to physically click the mouse.
- AT Mouse
- AT Mouse allows for PC users to use the keyboard to navigate the mouse pointer in a very efficient way using the keyboard keys. This way the use of a regular or dedicated mouse device is avoided, and the typing posture may be optimized for keyboard usage. As a result RSI symptoms can be avoided or reduced. The solution is also targeting users that only wants to boost productivity, as well as users with reduced dexterity.
- CIP - Computer Injury Prevention Program
- CIP software provides a holistic injury prevention approach. CIP is a coati character which pops up on your computer screen every hour (serving as a break reminder) and takes the computer user through a series of short but effective injury prevention exercises. The exercises are for the users eyes, hands, wrists, shoulders and legs. The program targets eye strain, repetitive strain injury and deep vein thrombosis.
- Healthy Hints
- software that will detect your periods of computer usage, recommends when a rest break is due and gives you a 5-star achievement rating. Also displays information on other factors that can affect your wellbeing as a computer user, such as lighting and posture.
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking, speech recognition software
- Software used by many disability users other than RSI as well. Actions may be verbally dictated or controlled by a mouse.
- Mouse keys
- Some operating systems allow using the numpad as a mouse.
- Software for which a number of different configuration options can be defined, each of which contains one or more timers to remind the user to have a rest. Timers can be set to remind the user of anything from taking a short walk around the office every hour to stretching the user's wrists every 30 seconds – the user defines the reminder message.
- RSI-Shield provides breaks and can operate the computer. The user can record frequently made operations, so they can be replayed.
- RSI Guard
- Software that suggests breaks based on work intensity as well as natural rest patterns, insuring that breaks are recommended when they're really needed. During breaks, RSIGuard shows stretch suggestions via 31 clear video demonstrations. Includes automatic clicking tool to eliminate mouse clicks, and a hot-key tool to reduce mousing/typing. Tracks your work patterns to help you improve and identify risk areas.
- SmartBreak reminds you to take breaks when working on a PC for long hours. Unlike similar programs which remind you to take breaks at fixed intervals, SmartBreak actually monitors the way you spend time on a PC and then prompts you to rest at the appropriate time. This effectively means that you can spend more time in front of a PC with very efficient break time utilization. SmartBreak not just reminds you to take breaks but can also enforce users to take a break, which is especially useful for kids when combined with the child lock option.
- Stretch is an app to have people take a break and stretch with easy-to-follow and attractive user interfaces.
- StretchClock is a customizable stretch reminder for office professionals and computer users. The time between breaks is configurable (one hour is recommended). During each break StretchClock shows a quick and easy stretch video, with directions that can usually be followed in an office environment. The no-sweat exercises are specifically targeted to prevent the problems that computer users most commonly develop.
- Voice Finger
- Software that uses speech recognition to control the keyboard and mouse by voice commands. Voice Finger was made by a developer with Repetitive Strain Injury, and was designed to eliminate the need to touch the computer at any time.
- Software that helps avoiding Repetitive Strain Injury at the computer by educating about muscle fatigue and recovery, providing basic timers to alert you to take micro-pauses and breaks, and monitoring the user's exposure and intensity of computer use and providing the user with feedback on progress.
- Workrave An open-source free program that assists in the recovery and prevention of repetitive strain injury. The program frequently alerts user to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts user to a predefined daily limit.
|This article is missing information about break reminders for Mac OS X. (March 2013)|
|OS||Editor||Name||Latest released year||Details|
|Mac OS X||SquidMelon||Stretch||2013||Stretch is an innovative break reminder app for Apple products.|
|Windows||Monkeymatt||Big Stretch Reminder||2013||Big Stretch is a free simple reminder tool that prompts a user to take regular breaks and helps prevent the symptoms of RSI.|
|Windows||InchWest||SmartBreak||2013||SmartBreak reminds you to take breaks when working on a PC for long hours. Unlike similar programs which remind you to take breaks at fixed intervals, SmartBreak actually monitors the way you spend time on a PC and then prompts you to rest at the appropriate time.|
|Windows 2000 to Vista||Cheqsoft||Break Reminder||2007||Software that has a small program interface that discreetly runs in the background. It can monitor your computer use, and reminds (or can force) the user to take a break to user-defined settings.|
|Windows||Eye protector pro||Advanced Break Reminder||2012||Customizable software designed with programmers and web/graphic designers in mind. It may help to decrease pain, strain or headaches caused by PC use.|
|Web application||Fit im job AG||micropause®||2012||The first web-based program of micro-breaks to manage entirely without installation of any software. Micropause® of fitimjob was rewarded with the Swiss Innovation Award in 2004.|
|Linux||Tom Albers and Bram Schoenmakers||RSIBreak||2011||Simply offers reminders to take a break now and then.|
|Linux, Windows||Rob Caelers and Raymond Penners||Workrave||2013||An open-source free program that assists in the recovery and prevention of repetitive strain injury. The program frequently alerts user to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts user to a predefined daily limit.|
- The number in hits in each application reference tells how many pages of hits Google reported for the applications's URL on the date shown. This number was generated by typing the URL in quotes into Google, then scrolling to the last page (10 hits/page).
- "AutoMouse". Sphere 10 Software. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 70 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "AT Mouse". ActiveTemplates. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 7 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Healthy Hints". CyberFlair. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 5 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Dragon Speech Recognition Software". Nuance Communications. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 46 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "PastTense". Anywhere. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 2 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "RSI-Shield". Eager Planet. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "RSIGuard". Remedy Interactive. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 29 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "LifeHacker". InchWest. Retrieved 07 March 2014.
- "Stretch". SquidMelon. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- "Stretch Clock". FitClock Productions. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 29 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Voice Finger". Retrieved 27 June 2013. 78 Google hits on 27 June 2013.
- "WorkPac". e. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 23 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Workrave". RSIBreak. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 14 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Stretch". SquidMelon. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
- http://monkeymatt.com/bigstretch/. Missing or empty
- "Break Reminder". Chequers Software. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 11 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Advanced Break Reminder". EyeProtectorPro.com. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 7 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Kill-RSI". Chanetro.com. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 1 Google hit on 18 August 2011.
- "micropause®". fit im job. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 1 Google hit on 18 August 2011.
- "RSIbreak". RSIBreak. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 11 Google hits on 18 August 2011.
- "Workrave". RSIBreak. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 14 Google hits on 18 August 2011.