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RSI & Handeze Gloves

My article on the Handeze gloves in TidBITS #199 provoked a number of comments and questions, the most common of which was a request for a non-800 number for Dome Publishing. Sorry about that – I realized I didn’t have the non-800 number too late in the day. The numbers are:

Dome — 800/432-4352 — 401/738-7900 — 401/732-5377 (fax)

I received some comments from a doctor concerning the use of heat and cold in healing. The general guidelines seem to be that cold is useful in the first 48 hours after an acute injury, since it decreases the amount of bleeding into the injured area. Heat, in contrast, increases circulation, which aids healing by providing the white blood cells needed to clean up the cellular debris and by providing the nutrients, oxygen, and raw materials needed to repair the damage.

Several people noted in reference to the strange four-hole design of the gloves that in playing certain instruments like piano and guitar, beginners are encouraged to increase the strength and independence of the third and fourth fingers (middle and ring fingers) which perhaps indicates that the design was created to provide extra support for a vulnerable tendon in that area.

Rick Holzgrafe <[email protected]> commented that you might be able to find the gloves more cheaply at crafts stores that specialize in hobbies like knitting, sewing and needlepoint, since people who participate in such tasks often suffer from RSI as well.

Angus McIntyre <[email protected]> and Fearghas McKay <[email protected]> wrote to say that the British legal establishment, in the person of Judge John Prosser, has ruled that RSI is "meaningless" and has "no place in the medical books." The ruling came down in a case involving a Reuters desk editor suffering from "upper limb disorder." It appears that the editor’s doctor wasn’t a particularly confident or sure witness, in contrast with two experts called by Reuters who claimed that RSI has "no medically recognised symptoms which could be put down to a physical condition."

Excuse me? Just because medical science doesn’t fully understand why millions of people around the world are suffering tremendous pain from repetitive motions doesn’t mean that they’re all hallucinating, or as in the case of the desk editor (according to Judge Prosser), suffering from a "lack of confidence in his ability and feelings of being watched and even victimised by his colleagues at work." I agree that medical science doesn’t understand RSI completely, based on my research into the subject last winter, but the pain is all too real. I doubt a doctor could discover a pathology for blind justice either. Medical science also doesn’t know entirely how aspirin works, but you may have trouble finding a doctor who won’t prescribe it because of that minor failing. If problems that have no medically recognized symptoms have no place in the medical books then everyone suffering from psychological problems should just stop whining and get on with their lives. That’s sarcasm, for anyone reading too quickly to notice.

Rumor has it that the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) is considering an appeal of the case, and the NUJ has some seventy similar cases pending that could be in jeopardy if this ruling stands. Other groups, including professors, physicians, physiotherapists, and the British Chiropractors Association, have come out against the ruling, which, incidentally, applies only to England and Wales, not to Scotland (and presumably Ireland), since Scotland has its own legal system.

From various reports, Judge Prosser has something of a reputation for having his decisions overturned. According to an article in the Independent, in February he freed a 15-year old accused rapist and ordered him to pay 500 pounds to the victim so she could have "a good holiday." The successful appeal replaced the fine with a sentence of two years detention. Perhaps the good judge will start suffering from a little gavel elbow as his courtroom becomes increasingly full of angry RSI-sufferers.

If the consequences of the ruling weren’t so tragic, the whole thing would be funny in a sick way. Some rulings have been more successful, with several recent cases involving an electronics worker and workers in a turkey factory (assembling turkeys is very repetitive, I guess). The Trade Union Congress estimates that 100,000 people in the U.K. suffer from RSI, and we can only hope that some of the RSI cases still to come before the courts will be favorably received.

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