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The Effect Of Musculoskeletal Disorders On Sign Language Interpreters

909 words - 4 pages

American Sign Language Interpreter is a job that is currently in very high demand. In the deaf community there is a serious shortage of interpreters. According to the federal emergency management agency a sign language interpreter is, “A person who has been trained to use a system of conventional symbols or gestures made with the hands and body to help people who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing, or have speech impairments communicate.” An interpreter is basically a go between for the deaf and hearing communities. There are many different job options in the field of american sign Language interpreting. Community, educational, and video relay service are three of the main job options for someone ...view middle of the document...

Sign Language interpreters are at increased risk for disorders in the upper extremities. Cumulative trauma disorders are prevalent among interpreters because they stem from using repetitive movements when signing. “Cumulative trauma disorders are a class of musculoskeletal disorders involving damage to the tendons, tendon sheaths, and the related bones, muscles, and nerves of the hands, wrists, elbows, arms…” Some of the most prevalent disorders among Sign Language interpreters are, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, tenosynovitis, DeQuervain’s Disease, brachial neuralgia, ulnar nerve entrapment, and ganglion cysts (Kimmel). “The Southern California Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf did a survey of its membership and found that approximately 44% of those responding had some form of overuse syndrome (Metzger).” In a recent study 145 interpreters were mailed a questionnaire about their experience of pain and discomfort during and after interpreting. The questions focused on pain or discomfort in the upper limbs, neck, back, shoulders, and hands. “They found that 82% of surveyed interpreters indicated some pain or discomfort in these body areas (Johnson).” Another study focusing on only hands and wrists, “found that 59% of the 184 respondents to their survey experienced hand or wrist problems (Johnson).” Being an interpreter can lead to many physical problems. The repetitive movements and increased amount of time spent signing can take a toll on your body and cause a lot of damage.
In order to avoid cumulative trauma disorders it is important that interpreters take care of themselves. When you are first learning to sign you need to provide time to increase hand and wrist strength. As you begin to sign more frequently having already built up strength will be of great benefit to you. It is important to warm up prior to interpreting. There are a...

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