Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Coping with laptop shoulder strain

Dealing with pain from laptop use ...

"Over the years, the laptop computer has maintained a steady visibility, emerging today as the most effective business tool. But owners are increasingly focusing their attention on safety measures, writes IKECHUKWU EZE
Tunde is a young computer scientist who works for a Lagos-based advertising agency. His job of designing advert copies often keep him in the office until very late in the night.

However, all that changed six months ago when he acquired a laptop computer. His new acquisition means that he could close early and take some tasks away to complete at home. But convenience sometimes comes at a cost; the pain of carrying the system around town. The weight of the laptop; its accessories weighing up to five kilograms, in a hold-all bag dangling from his shoulder is indeed a serious cause for concern.

"Sometimes I experience sharp, numbing pain on the shoulder," Tunde told Business Day, adding that he had devised a way of reducing the pain by resorting to a backpack which instead distributes the weight.

Like Tunde, Kenneth is a young journalist who is yet to own his own car. "Buying a laptop has made my job a lot easier," he said. Instead of coming to work early and leaving late which had been a tradition for him, if he is to work with one of the office computers he now writes most of his stories at home.

"The machine (laptop) has become an essential aspect of my dressing. I really cannot step out of my house without it. Any day I step out without the computer bag hanging from my shoulders, I actually feel there is something missing."

But the only drawback, according to him is the pain of dragging the computer to assignment venues before reporting to the office in the evening.

"To avoid the pain and strain of dragging the machine, some people leave theirs in the office. But to me that already defeats the comfort of mobility and flexibility, which the laptop conveys. I will rather suffer the shoulder strain than to leave it at home or elsewhere."

... The computer engineer identified the following as the necessary measures all users of laptop should pay attention to:

• Maintaining neutral postures will reduce stress and strain to the musculoskeletal system;

• Incorporate mini-breaks every 20 to 30 minutes to break up repetition and static postures;

• Maintain a comfortable viewing distance from your screen; about 18-30 inches;

Keep your head and neck in a neutral posture; avoid excessive neck flexion or rotation;

• Angle the screen so that it is perpendicular to your line of sight, if lighting permits;

• Position the keyboard at elbow height, and keep your wrists straight while keying. Experiment with table height, chair height and keyboard angle to maintain neutral wrist postures"    (Continued via BusinessDay)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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