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Observed differences in upper extremity forces, muscle efforts, postures, velocities and accelerations across computer activities in a field study of office workers

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This study, a part of the PRedicting Occupational biomechanics in OFfice workers (PROOF) study, investigated whether there are differences in field-measured forces, muscle efforts, postures, velocities and accelerations across computer activities. These parameters were measured continuously for 120 office workers performing their own work for two hours each. There were differences in nearly all forces, muscle efforts, postures, velocities and accelerations across keyboard, mouse and idle activities. Keyboard activities showed a 50% increase in the median right trapezius muscle effort when compared to mouse activities. Median shoulder rotation changed from 25 degrees internal rotation during keyboard use to 15 degrees external rotation during mouse use. Only keyboard use was associated with median ulnar deviations greater than 5 degrees. Idle activities led to the greatest variability observed in all muscle efforts and postures measured. In future studies, measurements of computer activities could be used to provide information on the physical exposures experienced during computer use.

Practitioner Summary: Computer users may develop musculoskeletal disorders due to their force, muscle effort, posture and wrist velocity and acceleration exposures during computer use. We report that many physical exposures are different across computer activities. This information may be used to estimate physical exposures based on patterns of computer activities over time.
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Keywords: biomechanics; human–computer interaction; office ergonomics; task analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Health,Harvard University, Boston,MA, USA 2: Department of Public and Occupational Health and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research,VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 3: Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences,University of Washington, Seattle,WA, USA 4: [email protected] Research Center on Physical Activity, Work and Health,TNO-VU/VUmc, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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