Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Laptop Ergonomics

Tips for avoiding RSI from using laptop ...

"Laptop computers and portable technology have changed the way we do business. With portable equipment, we are now able to work away from our primary office in a temporary or more comfortable location. We now have the luxury of working in a secondary or off-site office, while traveling, from the comfort of our home, and while lounging on the couch. However, in spite of their many benefits, portable computers, by their nature, increase the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries.

* The keyboard and screen are attached in one unit. Because they are unable to be adjusted independently, an ergonomic compromise is created on positioning and comfort of either the neck or the arm.
* Laptops are often used in cramped spaces compromising posture.
* Laptop keys are smaller than traditional, desk-top keyboards causing the potential for increased hand and finger strain.
* Laptop screens are typically smaller than standard causing potential eye strain.
* It is harder to adjust the laptop screen to reduce glare.
* Portable equipment is heavy to carry.

These shortfalls create the risk for pain, aching and muscular fatigue in the neck, shoulders, back, elbows, wrists and hands. They also create the potential for eye strain, headaches, numbness and tingling in the arms.

Putting these simple ergonomic adjustments into practice can help you reduce the risk of developing injuries while working on your laptop.

* Stretch often.
* Be aware of posture.
* Take frequent breaks, every 20-30 minutes if possible.
* Change your position often.
* Switch the laptop position from the lap to the table every 30 minutes.

o Putting the laptop in your lap will relax your shoulders.
o Putting it on the table will relax the neck and reduce eyestrain.

* Limit the peripherals you carry to the bare essentials to reduce the weight you carry.
* Use a carrier with padded straps and frequently change the shoulder that the bag is carried on; or use a backpack with both straps over the shoulders to distribute the weight; better still, use a carrier with wheels.
* Follow standard ergonomic positioning for a keyboard as closely as possible.

o Keep the wrists neutral.
o Keep the elbows open to 90 degrees or slightly greater.
o The ears, shoulders and elbows should be in vertical alignment.
o The shoulders should be relaxed. Do not round shoulders forward or hunch them up towards the ears.
o The head and neck should be relaxed. Do not let head drop forward out of alignment with shoulders."    (Continued via BellaOnline)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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