Chronic pain is a common symptom of those struggling with prolonged anxiety or anxiety disorders. This type of pain can vary in the way it displays itself, from headaches and migraines to the all-over muscle pain and fatigue often associated with conditions like fibromyalgia.
Back pain is one of the most often seen manifestations of anxiety, and itself can vary in its placement and severity. But in most Americans current daily lifestyles – often remaining in the same place most of their days, with little opportunity for movement or stretching – dealing with back pain can make daily activities requiring fine motor skills range from uncomfortable to excruciatingly painful. Tasks that have now become commonplace and expected, like typing, can become nearly impossible for prolonged periods of time.
Technology has long enabled some capabilities that mitigate the effects of this type of pain, though often created for those with physical ailments that make similar tasks more difficult. Speech recognition, a field of computational linguistics – or the modeling of natural language from a computational perspective – has its roots as early as the 1950s. Over time, this technology has been developed and repurposed from early Bell Labs research into the commonly available software that now assists the public. We’ve even seen the common integration of voice recognition in our own households, with technology like Google Home and Amazon Echo.
Yet surprisingly, despite this common integration of speech to text technology for both physical disabilities as well as general home usage, we haven’t quite seen its integration into the lives of those with invisible disabilities. But it’d be easy to argue that this form of integration is more necessary than usual search requests.
For those with chronic back pain, you may ask yourself – how could I benefit from integrating speech software into my work? It can seem like a foreign concept for those acclimated to the process of typing, with most graduates expected to type consistently, quickly, and effectively. But the potential benefit of utilizing the technology commonly available to us may provide greater benefits than you’d initially consider.
Those with aches focusing on the spine and lower back may be familiar with a certain type of pain that goes hand in hand with typing. Attempting to keep one’s back straight, with wrists and arms angled in an ergonomic way – all the while maintaining a consistent, quick typing speed – will find themselves needing to take breaks simply to stretch. But even once you’ve stretched, on returning to your task you may find your pain returning just as quickly as before, only providing a temporary relief between long stints of back pain.
Using speech to text on your mobile device or desktop computer can change this cycle. Integrating this technology provides an opportunity for you to remove the strain associated with continuous, quick typing, allowing you to maintain a better – or simply more comfortable – posture while continuing to write. Creating better daily posture for oneself helps you improve overall wellbeing, with better back and spinal health. Removing your focus on mashing down keys to maintaining that removes a stress factor so commonly found in most people’s daily work. It can feel frustrating to be impaired with pain, wanting to get your own thoughts down, with your own physicality being a barrier to doing so.
Removing typing from the equation of initial drafts also removes a great deal of stress. By connecting your voice to the page, you’re able to write directly to paper without the dual concern of spelling and grammar. By separating creation of one’s document from editing into two distinct phases, you remove that stress associated with simply getting your ideas down.
The next time you’re faced with writing a large document, consider making time to write down what you’re thinking in a new way, and see if it benefits your lifestyle. You may find it a welcome tool for your work.
Citation on importance of posture, from Harvard Health Publishing: health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-good-posture-matters