Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs)

In recent years, a new category of disease has been recognized: Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs). There are several terms used for CTDs, including Repetitive Motion Injurie (RMI), Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WRMD), and Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS).

CTDs result from repeating the same or similar motions over and over again. Awkward posture, force and lack of recovery time increase one's chances for developing CTDs.

Just what is a cumulative trauma disorder? A trauma is a shock to the body. A painter breaks an arm after falling from a ladder. We can easily identify the cause of that "disorder" - a fall. The injury was not cumulative; it resulted from a single incident.

CTDs, however, do not result from a single event. They result from the accumulation of small shocks to the body.

Strike the letter "a" on your keyboard. That single, small shock to your hand and wrist looks and feels harmless. It is. Increase that action to 20,000 times a day with poor wrist posture. Over a period of time, the result could be a CTD such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The U.S. Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics: 202 606-7800) reports that over a period of 11 years, CTD (CTDs include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tension Neck Syndorme, Tenosynovitis, Trigger Finger, Epicondylitis, and Rotator Cuff Syndrome) cases grew from 18 to 61 percent of all reported occupational disease cases. Although industrial work remains the greatest risk for CTDs, computer workers report more and more problems.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, back and neck pain, and visual complaints top the list of concerns. Since computer use is relatively new to the office, it has been impossible to predict the long-term effects of keying.