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Pain Management Health Center

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Office Ergonomics - Using Ergonomics to Prevent Injury

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Many people use laptop computers as secondary workstations. You should not use a laptop as your primary computer. Using a docking station that provides an adjustable keyboard can help keep your wrists in a neutral position to reduce stress and strain. If you use a laptop often, try the following to improve ergonomic factors:

  • Take 10- to 15-second breaks often throughout your task. For example, look away from your computer monitor, stand up, or stretch your arms. Short breaks reduce eyestrain and the buildup of muscle tension.
  • Keep your head and neck in a neutral position and about 18 to 30 inches away from the monitor screen.
  • Position the keyboard so that it is at elbow height, and try to keep your wrists relatively straight and your fingers slightly curved while you are working. You may need to use a pillow under your elbows to support your arms if you are sitting on a couch or chair while keying.
  • Use an external mouse instead of the small touch pad or trackball that is on the laptop keyboard.
  • When you have to carry your laptop with you:
    • Carry only what you need with you.
    • Use a carrying case with a padded strap and handle. Backpacks with two straps are the best. If you use a case with one strap, it's best to put the strap over the opposite shoulder to help distribute the load you are carrying, or to switch hands regularly.
    • Use a luggage cart with wheels when possible.

Parents can apply all these ideas when children use a computer. To adjust a workstation for a child, you may want to:

  • Make sure the seat is high enough so your child can see the monitor without looking up and so your child's shoulders are relaxed when he or she types. You may want to have your child sit on a thick book, a firm pillow, or a booster seat.
  • Use a footstool (or a thick book or a backpack) to support your child's feet if they don't rest comfortably on the floor.
  • Use a firm pillow behind your child's back to scoot him or her toward the front of the chair.
  • Adjust the keyboard and mouse or other input device to keep your child's wrists straight.
  • Avoid glare on the monitor screen.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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