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

Abstract

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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