An aid to combat RSI

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Indy Lifestyle Online
If you start to notice your colleagues behaving strangely - sticking their tongues out at their PCs, clutching their knees to their chests, that sort of thing - don't start blaming the office coffee or over-long "lunches", they could just be combating RSI.

Exerciser is an ingenious new application from International Health and Safety Software (IHSS). Based on the premise that most PC users quickly forget any ergonomic-related training they may have received, the package guides them through exercises to counter repetitive strain injury. RSI, which causes potentially crippling pain in the arm, affects a significant number of computer users.

The program features 19 animated stretches and four visual training exercises for all the body parts that can be affected by prolonged computer use - the eyes, fingers, thumbs, wrists, face, shoulders, neck, forearms, rib cage, upper arms, upper back, lower back, and even the hips and ankles. The package advises on the number of repetitions needed for each exercise, plus its duration, and can be set up to beep as the exercise movement changes. The whole set of exercises, performed as recommended, takes five minutes to complete.

Users can run Exerciser in one of four ways: manually, whenever they want to; automatically at pre-set intervals; at pre-set times; or after the keyboard has registered a certain amount of typing use. It can also be set up to give audio or visual alerts that an exercise session or rest break is due.

Instructions are very clear, and the optional learning mode is particularly useful if you are new to the package and the concept it's trying to promote. There is also an RSI prevention checklist to help you arrange your work area as ergonomically as possible.

Exerciser is nothing fancy - its graphics for example are very basic - but it is fun and cheap, costing about £10. Windows and OS/2 versions are available now from IHSS on 0171-221 7848.

Clare Newsome

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