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Laptop Ergonomics

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¬≠Laptop computers provide a portable alternative means to perform work or activities.  In short, individuals now have the luxury of working in a secondary or off-site office.  However, laptops by their nature increase the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries.

­Taking the following steps may help to reduce the risk of developing injuries while working on a laptop:

  • If laptop is used as the primary computer, it is especially important to be aware of positioning.
  • Adjust laptop so that the neck is not bent when looking at the screen.
    • Use monitor risers or stand so that the screen in an optimal position.
    • Putting laptop on a table will relax the neck and reduce eyestrain.
    • Placing laptop on the lap will relax the shoulders.
    • Switch laptop position from the lap to the table every 30 minutes.
  • Connect a separate keyboard and mouse at arm/elbow level.
  • Stretch often.
  • Follow standard ergonomic positioning for a keyboard as closely as possible.
    • Shoulders should be relaxed (try not to round them forward or hunch up towards the ears).
    • Head and neck should be relaxed (avoid letting head to drop forward).
    • Ears, shoulders and elbows should be in vertical alignment.
    • Keep the elbows open to 90 degrees or slightly greater.
    • Keep the wrists neutral.
  • Limit the peripherals being carried carry to the bare essentials to reduce weight.
    • Frequently change the shoulder that the bag is carried on.
    • Use a carrier with padded straps.
    • Consider using a backpack with both straps over the shoulders to distribute the weight, or\
    • Utilize carrier with wheels.
  • Employ proper finger positioning, typing and mousing techniques.
    • Avoid planting the wrists down while typing.
    • Use two hands for 2-key functions.
    • Use a lighter touch while typing.
    • Keep the fingers relaxed.
  • Consider the following practices to address thumb discomfort.
    • Utilize a mouse that does not require the need to hold wrist in full pronation (such as a contoured or vertical mouse).
    • Change the hand when operating the mouse, or alternate between hands.