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Hand/wrist disorders among sign language communicators

Hand/wrist disorders among sign language communicators

American Annals of the Deaf 145(1): 22-25

The study assessed the frequency of self-reported hand/wrist problems among sign language communicators, including interpreters, deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals, and educators. Comparisons were also made between sign language communicators and the general population regarding the frequency of medically diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome. A survey was mailed to attendees of a national conference that focused on the quality of postsecondary educational opportunities for students with hearing deficits. Fifty-nine percent of 184 respondents reported experiencing hand/wrist problems. Twenty-six percent reported experiencing hand/wrist problems severe enough to limit the ability to work, and 18% reported a medical diagnosis of wrist tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or both. The frequency of self-reported, medically diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome for the surveyed sign language communicators was five times the rate experienced by working Americans between ages 18 and 60 years (Tanaka, Wild, Seigman, Halperin, Behrens, & Putz-Anderson, 1995). The study supports increased emphasis on and availability of hand/wrist disorder risk reduction programs for sign language users.

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Accession: 046211175

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PMID: 10812686

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