I sometimes suffer from RSI. I’ve heard several people I respect say that they think most RSI is a psychological phenomenon. My understanding of their view is that they think there’s a feedback loop where you notice your wrists hurting and then you are anxious about the pain, causing you to pay more attention to it, which causes more pain though some mechanism we don’t yet understand. For the purposes of this post, I’m interested in the hypothetical of if something like that story is true.
I have some stories for what I’d do differently:
- Ask a doctor to prescribe some psychiatric drugs, like SSRIs if I thought it was related to anxiety
And some things I’d do the same:
- Continue to rest my wrists and do voice work when things get bad
But some things I’m uncertain about:
- Do ergnomics matter?
I know several others who also suffer from RSI, and honestly I think the question is even more complicated there. Am I making my friends’ conditions worse if I talk about my condition?
(As a side note: I’m super glad that I can do voice work and give my wrists a rest. I honestly enjoy it, which is for sure not the typical experience. I am very grateful that I drew ”enjoys voice input” in the lottery of fascinations. While I admittedly haven’t seen many people get the benefit I have, if you’re reading this and would like my help getting set up using Talon Voice, send me a DM.)
There's a commonly-hypothesized version of the feedback loop that has one more step: paying attention to the pain causes you to tense muscles in the area that don't need to be tense, and which hurt if they are. This mechanism implies that certain physical interventions will work (things which un-tense the muscles). It also de-mystifies what "paying attention to the pain" means, in a way that's more actionable and less psychology-flavored.
Chiming in with my personal experience defeating psychosomatic RSI.
I don't have RSI but I'm curious to know more about voice input. My assumption (having done zero research) is it's slower than hand input.
I worked on speech recognition (really, more NLU and question-answering, but close to the ASR team), and we have a few other LW members actively working in the area as well.
For careful (trained or at least practiced) speakers compared to touch-typing, on material that's amenable to ASR (mostly not very precise and hard-to-predict symbols), speech can be faster by 1.5-2.5 times (80-120wpm typed, 120-200wpm spoken). But that's not really the normal use case - many people find that for written output, they need the control and editing capability of keyboards more than pure speed.
Unless you've got a medical, safety, or convenience reason to use voice input (of which there are many!), typing is probably much better. The dream is a hybrid - switching seamlessly between spoken and typed input, depending on what's best for any given unit of input. I haven't seen any consumer-usable examples of this, though.