How to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries

Game Programmer -Why is it important for young developers and artists to prevent repetitive stress injuries?

Whether you are an incoming student in one of our programs in game development or film, chances are, you will be spending a lot of time in front of your computer. According to Kleiner Perkins Internet Analyst Mary Meeker, we spend around 103 minutes on our computers on average – that’s not counting how many hours spent developing games, and how each person maintains their posture for that extensive amount of time. As you prepare for your career, it is important to practice proper ergonomics. It’s also important to know that these types of injuries can be irreversible if it persists for too long.

What are Repetitive Stress Injuries?

The pain one feels is generally damage to the muscles, tendons, and nerves. Fine hand movements, repeated hour after hour eventually strain the muscles and tendons of the forearm, wrists, and fingers, causing microscopic tears. Injured muscles contract, or shorten, decreasing the range of motion necessary for stress free work. When the damaged tendons of the muscles aren’t given enough time to rest and recover, pain will ensue. At this point, the tendons are inflamed and begin to pinch neighboring nerves.  This can result in numbness, tingling, or extra sensitivity to touch.

How can I prevent these injuries from happening?

Taking steps to prevent repetitive strain injuries involve many key factors. The most important strategy is to take frequent breaks while working at your computer – especially if it’s crunch time. You may also consider:

–  Adjusting your chair for proper neck, back and leg support.

–  Keeping your hands and wrists relaxed and straight while at the keyboard.

–  Grasp and click mouse with a light touch while keeping it in close range.

–  Position your monitor with the top of the screen at eye level.

–  Keep body at 90 degrees while working.

Although repetitive strain has the potential to be serious, proper prevention strategies can lead to successful management. For temporary relief, apply ice to the affected muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Moist heat treatments, such as a hot towel or warm shower, will reduce muscle spasm and improve circulation to injured areas. Consulting your doctor is always best, especially if you feel you may be developing a repetitive strain injury. Since AIE’s classrooms simulate a studio environment, each instructor implements their own strategies to prevent these injuries. developing these habits before noticeable damage occurs will ensure a longer and healthier career.