Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is loosely defined as an injury
to the musculoskeletal or nervous systems. It can be caused
by repetitive motion and affects a specific part of the body.
Some common injuries include back problems caused by repeatedly
lifting heavy objects, or tennis elbow from overusing the forearm.
The application of new ergonomic solutions can prevent some
of the debilitating injuries endured by workers who do certain
tasks without variety throughout the workday. The tool described
below could be considered an example. At the least, it was one
individual's contribution to his trade and an innovative solution
to a perceived problem.
With his patent #73,141, dated January 7, 1868, Jacob Vigeant
of Marlboro, Massachusetts, sought to improve the versatility
of the shoemaker's hammer by having two inclined opposing faces
to allow the user to rest his hand at a lower position. This
meant that striking required a smaller movement, as compared
to the larger arm and hand movements used in striking similar
implements extant in the leatherwork trade, most notably by
cordwainers (who made shoes) and cobblers (who repaired shoes).
The wooden handle had appropriate flats for the handgrip to
provide correct alignment of the striking face. It was claimed
that by having the two striking faces, if one became damaged
the other side could be used.