Sunday, December 23, 2007

New ways to reduce computer-related injuries

More on ergonomic chair design tested by Alan Hedge ...

"According to some studies, computing-related injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndromes or back injuries, affect about one-third of computer users. A Cornell University researcher decided to find some ways to help us. So he studied new products able to prevent repetitive motion injuries, including a chair that undulates, a mouse that vibrates or a monitor suspended over a desk on a movable arm. And don’t laugh at his efforts. As kids are now using computers at age 2, they might develop non-curable chronic injuries even before becoming adults.

You can see on the left a prototype of a new chair design studied at Cornell. “To reduce static load on intervertebral discs from prolonged sitting, the seat of this prototype chair makes a continuous wavelike motion. (Credit: Cornell University)

This research project is being led by Alan Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology and director of the Cornell Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group (CHFERG). You’ll find much more information by visiting the CUErgo website.

You’ll find even more details by reading an article from Human Ecology Magazine, which is published twice a year by the College of Human Ecology of Cornell University, “Ergonomic Expert Keeps Pace with Computer Challenges (Volume 35, Number 2, November 2007, PDF format, 4 pages, 234 KB). The picture on this post has been extracted from this article.

Here is a description of Hedge’s findings. “Hedge’s subjects sat on a chair in which the seat made a continuous sinusoidal (wavelike) movement at a rate they could adjust. Would this interrupt concentration or make the person feel motion sick or otherwise uncomfortable? Most important, would it alleviate back pain for people whose pain increases when they are seated? The findings regarding each of these specific questions were mixed, but overall Hedge concluded that the movable seat was a concept with promise, particularly for individuals with back problems.”

It is not unusual that Hedge gets requests from companies about good seats for their employees. “Common among them are ones like this: ‘What kind of chair can I buy for my people that costs about $300?’ Such a question represents a false economy, the foolhardiness of which Hedge, a professor of design and environmental analysis who is an international authority on the behavioral science of ergonomics, inveighs against. He backs up his stance with three decades of scientific inquiry. ‘The difference between a not very good chair and a really good chair is about another $300,’ Hedge explains. ‘Compared to a single injury — one carpal tunnel syndrome case can cost upward of $100,000 — that investment is trivial."    (Continued via ZDNet)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Cornell Undulating Chair - Ergonomics

Cornell Undulating Chair

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