Thursday, December 13, 2007

Can massage chairs or a vibrating mouse prevent computer-related injuries?

Alan Hedge looks at several products to help repetitive-motion injuries ...

"A chair that undulates, a mouse that vibrates, a monitor suspended over a desk on a movable arm. These are some of the kinds of newfangled ergonomic products that Alan Hedge, international authority on office ergonomics, studies to see if they can prevent repetitive motion injuries among the estimated 100 million people who now use computers in the United States.

"One-third to one-half of all compensatory injuries are repetitive-motion injuries associated with office-type work," says Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis in Cornell's College of Human Ecology.

Back injuries also account for one-third of all workplace injuries. A decade ago most of these were associated with heavy lifting. Today they are mostly caused by people sitting for longer periods of time -- often in front of a computer.

The younger onset of computer use makes the current rate of compensatory damage claims the canary in the coal mine. There is typically a 10- to 15-year latency before injuries start to develop, Hedge has found. In the early 1990s he showed that the average age of workers reporting carpal tunnel syndrome was late 30s to early 40s; last year, he found the average age of onset had dropped to the mid-20s and even younger for some people.

"Now kids are using computers at age 2, so by the time they enter the workforce they'll already be primed for injuries," Hedge says. "This is very serious because an injury can become life-changing; carpal tunnel, for example, is not curable. They'll have to manage this chronic condition for the rest of their lives."    (Continued via PHYSORG)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Massage Chair - Ergonomics

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