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Some Occupational Injuries Of Olde
by Mark on 10/20/2005 (0)

1...2...3...Youch! 1...2...3...Youch!!
A new occupational ailment has literally gripped Modern Man, a result of cavemen sized thumbs and rice grain sized tactile function buttons, dubbed by industry physicians as 'Blackberry Thumb'.

So, what's a Blackberry?

A Blackberry is a small, wireless palm held digital computer used for automatically sending and receiving e-mail.

Business executives and tech-savvy consumers are increasingly using BlackBerries, Treos, Sidekicks and other devices with miniature keyboards designed for thumb-tapping to stay connected while on the go. Earlier this year, the American Society of Hand Therapists issued a consumer alert, warning users of small electronic gadgets that heavy thumb use could lead to painful swelling of the sheath around the tendons in the thumb. Youch!

But occupational injuries have most certainly been around since the dawn of the Stone Age, and here are a few other probable examples throughout the ages.

Flint Finger: 'Flint Finger' is the scarred, heavily calloused thumb and index finger resulting from holding a chunk of river flint or obsidian in one hand and a reindeer antler chipping tool in the other. The constant battering from the antler tool often resulted in missed blows, which pummeled and chaffed the tender hand holding the flint. Indeed, 'Flint Finger' was a badge of industry and honor among Neolithic men, and professional flinters would often rub their lacerated hands together as a fraternal greeting and a show of adeptness in their craft. This was also the precursor of the first 'handshake'.

Rower's Wrist: 'Rower's Wrist' was a common ailment among ancient seafaring Phoenicians and their great "Galleys of 100 oars" 2000 years ago. Seasoned rowers perpetually bitched and moaned about the pain in their biarticulate wrist flexor muscles, making life aboard the Galleys a living nightmare for captains and slave alike. After a career rower finally blew out his biarticulates once and for all, he was happily transferred to the Isle of Lesbos as a wine porter. This was the early equivalent of 'worker's compensation'.

Armour Rash: 'Armour Rash' was pandemic among Medieval Knights, affecting almost 4 in 5, especially in warm climates such as Venice, and among Crusaders on long campaigns in the Middle East. Armour Rash was characterized by a chaffed, burning backside that can be compared with modern diaper rash. The ultimate solution was a suit of Armor with a hinged derriere, offering cooling ventilation to the posterior, but this advancement was quickly squelched by Draconian Warlords, citing "Soon the men will be asking for a mug of ale and a salty wench for comfort in the field as well."

Washboard Hump: The 'Washboard Hump' was a frontier ailment persistent all the way through the early 20th Century, caused by kneeling over a washboard and bucket to scrub clothing. Characterized by a scoliosis like curvature of the upper vertebrae, untold housewives and servants spent the latter years of their lives hunched over like a coke-bottle spectacled black-jack dealer on a Vietnam War era Saigon street corner. There is no modern equivalent to Washboard Hump, as electric washing machines are the norm, although 'Rinse-Cycle Finger' afflicts many modern denizens, especially those with large families.

Dot-Matrix Ear: A brief occupational ailment, common in the 1970's to the early 1990's, was caused by the mind-numbing, ear-shattering 'bzzzzzzzz!...bzzzzzzzz!' of those terrible,

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