On Switched at birth, Regina, the mother of Deaf character Daphne, is sick. Years of signing, hairdressing, and painting have resulted in irreparable damage to her hands. I’d heard before that interpreters are predisposed to such conditions. To be honest, I’m scared. I can’t imagine not being able to use my hands like Regina, especially considering I’d love to be a JSL interpreter someday.
So, I decided to do some research. (Thank God for Google!) And I put a name to this scary condition: Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI). It takes the form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (the only name I recognised), tendonitis, and bursitisis. And, I also found that there was some ways to protect oneself.
- Warm up before signing at least 15 minutes.
- Limber your fingers, hands, arms and shoulders by going through “range of motion” exercises. Flex fingers, hands and elbows, roll wrists, shoulders, and neck.
- Stretch the tendons and ligaments to be used. Gently but firmly, pull fingers backwards over the back of the hand. Pull the shoulder down while pulling the head/neck away in the opposite direction.
- For extended periods of signing, take breaks after an hour and a half or two hours. Rest for at least 15 minutes before continuing.
- If interpreting, have a partner to trade off with.
- Pace yourself. Don’t continue for too many hours in a given day.
- Make sure your chair is ergonomically correct. If standing, don’t stand in one position for extended periods.
- Strengthen your muscles with regular, moderate exercise.
I begin to wonder, though, how come Deaf people, who’ve been signing since their single-digits, don’t seen to get RMI. My JSL teacher once said that you need to relax as you’re signing. So, maybe that’s part of it. Hmm…
Still scared, though. Just… A bit less.
The information I found is at “Sign Language Can Cause Repetitive Motion Injury”.