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Seniors at Risk
for Computer Injury
By Wayne C. Wurtz, PTA, B.S. and Thomas J. Palermo, MPT

Seniors are increasingly spending more of their day in an office or workstation environment. Whether you have chosen to remain or return to the workforce, or if you are just spending more time at your computer, you may be at risk for injury.

Having the proper work space, desk height, computer reach and monitor height is important to deter potential repetitive injuries, which may include carpal tunnel syndrome.

To prevent a cumulative trauma disorder or chronic inflammatory condition, here are some basic recommendations that we frequently provide during workstation analyses:

  • Square up your monitor and keyboard to avoid turning your neck.
  • Ideally, your monitor should be up at eye level so you are not "peering" downward.
  • Place your mouse or trackball next to your keyboard and in the same horizontal plane. Avoid reaching for these devices. Consider using short-cut keys rather than using your mouse.
  • If you have a wrist rest, avoid "planting" your wrists on this while keying. The wrist rest is there for you to "rest" your wrists between keying or mousing, not while keying.
  • Most people automatically put the "kickstands" up on their keyboard simply "because they are there." Try lowering the keyboard. This may help keep your wrists closer to a neutral posture.
  • Avoid cradling the phone receiver between your shoulder and neck - try using a speakerphone or a headset instead.
  • Sit all the way back in your chair so your lower and upper back are supported with the chair back. If you can't reach the back of the chair, use properly positioned pillows in the chair or get a better fitting chair.
  • Watch your posture. Keep a balanced spinal posture by maintaining your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.
  • Take breaks at least every 30 minutes. Prolonged sitting, keying and mousing without breaks can fatigue your forearm muscles and postural muscles causing you to slouch.

If you have days that you need to do a lot of computer work, take a few seconds to:

  • Check your posture
  • Stand up and walk
  • 20-20 (Take 20 seconds to look 20 feet)
  • Stretch

Click for More on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


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