Combating fatigue and other symptoms with prolonged work at the computer

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All too often employers and individuals do not take the time and effort to create ergonomically designed workstations for people prone to symptoms or medical syndromes such as Repetitive Stress Injury (RIS) or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Prevention is key. Even with required prolonged work periods, it is possible to avoid RSI and CTS and similar physical ailments by designing a beneficial ergonomic workstation.

INTRODUCTION

Below is a description of a totally planned and designed ergonomic computer workstation that anyone can duplicate. This workstation setup has successfully prevented low back pain, upper back pain, head and neck pain, shoulder, arm and wrist pain as well as headache pain. By utilizing such an ergonomic workstation, it is possible to avoid the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and other types of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) syndromes.

In this instance, all of the above symptomatology existed due to a history of a series of motor vehicle accidents, subsequent physical injuries and spinal disk degeneration, and with the acquisition of a fibromyalgia-like condition.

Despite requiring far more than the average work week time-wise at the computer station, it has been possible to minimize, even totally eliminate, the variety of symptoms experienced in multiple areas of the body. In addition to the ergonomically designed station described below, "soft tissue manipulation" therapy also serves to prevent RSI-type symptoms.

The LaFuma chair: http://www.lafuma.fr/lafuma/COMMUN/produit/fiche_catalogue.asp?cd_produit=219&cd_lang=EN)

is a central component of the design of this workstation. As such the LaFuma chair, available at Relax the Back Store outlets, is offered at a relatively lower cost than some of the more expensive ergonomically designed chairs offered by other companies, making it an economical and preferred choice for those not wishing to invest upwards of $1000 or more in a chair alone. This chair permits assumption of a position while working in which the legs are higher than the heart, relieving low back stress and providing maximum comfort while working.

A “live real-person subject” demonstration of how an ordinary individual can create a safe and totally ergonomically planned and designed computer work station just with components easily available on the market, including the LaFuma chair, is presented here:

http://home.att.net/~abc4all/wsb/html/view.cgi-photos.html-.html

PURPOSE OF THE DESIGN

A totally planned ergonomic computer workstation has been designed that successfully minimizes and prevents the development of increasing muskuloskeletal pain over time. Included and under consideration are low back pain, upper back pain, hand, wrist, arm and shoulder pain, neck pain and head pain (headaches).

This work station design is appropriate for healthy, robust individuals who have no physical injuries or accident history. The design is especially helpful, however, for anyone who spends a significant or prolonged amount of time at a computer. It is especially important to create such a design for persons who do so and who have physical challenges (low back pain, etc.) that stem from physical or accidental injuries.

In this case, a history of injuries from multiple auto accidents, low back herniated disk, neck osteophytes contributed to symptoms that occurred during computer work. At different times diagnoses have been made, including fibromyalgia, myositis, myofascial pain syndrome, trigger points, muscle spasms - depending on the doctor involved. It has been documented that the headaches experienced were of a muskuloskeletal origin and were exacerbated by muscle strain that occurred in the upper back/neck region during prolonged computer work exposure.

COMPONENTS OF THE ERGONOMIC WORK STATION:

1. LaFuma chair:

http://www.lafuma.fr/lafuma/COMMUN/produit/fiche_catalogue.asp?cd_produit=219&cd_lang=EN

2. Two arm rest foam bolsters.

3. Ergonomically designed Kinesis Keyboard:

http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/

4. Bose Noise Canceling Ear Phones (for purposes of creating the quietest work environment):

http://www.bose.com/noise_reduction/qc_headset/more.shtml

5. Radio Shack Mouse Pad with built-in gel wrist rest

BODY POSITIONING FOR LOW, MID AND UPPER BACK, SHOULDERS, ARMS, HEAD AND NECK:

By using the LaFuma chair, the main position utilized while working at the computer has the chair in the fully reclined position, with feet higher than heart. This relieves low back stress and discomfort and maximizes comfort on the entire back, head and neck. The head and neck are supported by the movable ergonomically designed head rest provided with the LaFuma chair.

The arms rest on foam padding that prevents the development of any elbow sores or generalized arm soreness that can occur when there is the accumulation of pressure from resting the arms on the chair’s arms over time.

ARM/HAND SUPPORT

Because the keyboard is totally ergonomically designed, there results great comfort in the typing/working positioning of the arms and hands. The palms of the hands rest on foam padding provided by Kinesis for the lower part of each side of the keyboard where the bottoms of the palms rest while typing.

CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATION

The combination of support for the palms, arms, head and neck, upper and lower back, provides maximized comfort for working longer periods at the computer workstation. Nevertheless, it is important to get up and move around on a regular and frequent basis (minimum every 15 minutes) to ensure prevention of stiffness and other symptoms that can occur with excessive or prolonged work time at the computer station without such periodic breaks.

In short, the human body naturally lends itself to activity and motion, while stationary positions assumed for prolonged periods of time tend to interfere with the natural energy the body creates and expends. We are meant to move, and that activity clearly is beneficial, especially compared with the adoption of rigid stationary body positions such as those used at a computer workstation.

Respectfully submitted,

Burton Danet, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist (retired)

Founder, A Better Community For All (ABC4All)

http://home.att.net/~abc4all

Two Digital Pictures documenting the above computer work station and body position are found here:

http://home.att.net/~abc4all/wsb/html/view.cgi-photos.html-.html

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