At Speechpad, we get hundreds of applicants per day. Some hopefuls present resumes full of previous transcription experience, others are new but eager and ready to get started. Whether a newbie or a veteran, Speechpad’s At-Home Transcriber 101 series will take a deep dive into the at-home freelance transcriber profession. Want to be a transcriber? Start taking notes. Already a transcriber? What you learn may surprise you!
Work from home jobs seem too good to be true. Last time we touched on some things to be aware of and tips for places to work. Being a transcriber, though, means you’ll inevitably find yourself for hours in front of the computer screen at a time.
As a professional transcriber, there are three main areas you should keep tabs on in terms of maintaining your health while working from home. We’ll look at what you should be aware of and some things you can do about it without much (or any) financial investment.
Keep in mind, we’re not doctors and we’re not intending to give medical advice. You should always seek a doctor for an official diagnosis and treatment plan. We’re just sharing some general info, our experiences and solutions as well as passing on experiences our team members have shared with us.
Your eyes are a valuable tool as a transcriber as you’ll be staring into a computer screen for hours on end while both seeking transcription opportunities and completing them. So what are the dangers a freelance transcriber needs to “keep an eye out” for?
- Blue light/brightness – Not all research agrees that we should be concerned about the blue light (waves) that are emitted from our electronic devices. But, Harvard Health looked at “the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light (compared to) exposure to green light of comparable brightness.” And found that “the blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).”
What does that mean? What can you do about it?
- It seems most of the noticeable negative effects of blue light happen at night and that the results could affect your ability to fall asleep.
- Avoid working too late into the evening, and/or or consider investing in glasses that block blue light waves. We’ll look at these and more in a later segment that touches on potential transcriber equipment.
- Even if the jury is still out on blue light, staring at a screen whether it be your cell phone, PC, tablet or any combination of will take a toll on your eyes.
- Take regular breaks where you spend time away from your screens.
- Work in well-lit areas to avoid unnecessary additional strain.
- Purchase over-the-counter eye drops to help keep your eyes hydrated.
Two main things to be aware of here as our primary tool for transcription is our hands on our keyboard and mouse. The repetitive motions of our jobs as well as the position we hold ourselves in both contribute to the two main issues we’ll address here.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Feel any pain, tingling, numbness, burning or weakness in your hand in the area shown above?
Repeated wrist extension and poor hand positioning on your keyboard and/or mouse could be giving you carpal tunnel syndrome or irritating your already-existing condition.
What can you do about it?
- Healthline tells us solutions can be as simple as being aware of our hand position to avoid the condition in the first place.
- Get a wrist support for your keyboard and/or mouse.
- Consider a wrist brace, available at most pharmacies.
- You can treat pain with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.
- Worst-case scenarios may require steroid injections and/or surgery.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – I’ve personally experienced a lot of pain from this one. The symptoms are similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but the pain is felt from your pinky to your middle finger, can go all the way up through your elbow into your shoulder as well. As transcribers, ASSH tells us it could be caused by pressure on the ulnar nerve in your forearm (resting your weight on an armrest much?) or by simply keeping your elbows in a bent position for extended periods of time.
What can you do about it?
- Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, treatment and prevention can start as simply as being aware of your positioning and change it. Be more aware of your position and make a conscious effort to avoid unnecessary and/or prolonged pressure on the nerve.
- Consider wrapping a towel lightly around your arm or using a splint to prevent bending.
- I don’t know, personally, if anti-inflammatories help with this one, and the ASSH doesn’t mention it as a possible treatment.
- Injections, a similar treatment to carpal tunnel, did alleviate my pain, but hopefully you’ll read this blog and change your behavior or seek medical attention before it gets to that. 😉
Remember, even though we may transcribe doctors, we aren’t doctors. However, hopefully you’re able to take better care to prevent some of these common issues transcribers may experience or now know to go seek out a medical professional. We’ll look into other potential health issues related to other parts of the body in a later article, so stay tuned!
Have anything you want to share? Have a question about being a transcriber you’d love to get advice on? Let us know! Someone else may have the same burning question or benefit from the experiences you have to share in a future At-Home Transcriber 101.