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Setting up a Home Office Workstation Ergonomically
By Mark Kerestan PT, PA-C

In the present information age, nearly everyone has a home computer. In fact, it is estimated that over 50 percent of Facebook’s 500 million members are over the age of 50. This means that Americans are spending many hours each day at a computer, both at work and at home. Anyone spending more than an hour each day at a computer is at risk for repetitive strain injuries if steps aren’t taken to insure proper ergonomic position while working at the computer.

Let’s start with sitting….ideally, one should sit with their rear all the way back against the back rest (not slouched) with feet flat on the floor, with the knees, ankles, and hips flexed at right angles. Using a chair with adjustable height and/or use of a footrest are ways to insure that the feet can rest comfortably on the floor.
A chair with adjustable armrests will help to minimize the fatigue to the neck and shoulders associated with holding the arms up while using a keyboard or mouse. Use of a chair with a lumbar support or a lumbar pillow will help to maintain the proper arch in the low back, preventing the slouching which contributes to disk problems over time.
The keyboard and mouse should be close to the body such that the user’s upper arms are at their side, with the elbows at right angles. This avoids forward reaching at the shoulders and elbows which contributes to neck and shoulder fatigue.

The wrists should be straight or raised slightly while keyboarding. Extreme bending or extending of the wrists while keyboarding can be a contributing factor for lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow. Use of a gel wrist pad can help to place the wrists in the proper position and increase comfort for extended periods of typing.
Finally, the video monitor should be placed such that the top of the monitor is level with the eyes and the monitor should be within arms reach of the user. Video monitors that are too high/low, or too far away increase the risk of eye and neck strain.

These simple suggestions will help to make your computer use a more comfortable experience and reduce the risk of developing repetitive strain or posture related health problems over time. Please contact OSPTA at any office location if you have questions about your computer work area.

Mark Kerestan, Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy Associates, can be reached at MKerestan@uss.com or (724) 244-0126.

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