Ergonomic Considerations

In recent years people have become concerned with the long-term effects of computer use on people's health. It is well known that computers can contribute to sedentary lifestyles. Sitting in front of a computer for hours each day is an excellent way to avoid exercise, which in turn promotes obesity and encourages serious health problems such as strokes and heart attacks. More recently, computers have been blamed for an increase in repetitive stress injuries (RSIa). Perhaps the best-known RSI is carpal tunnel syndrome, but computers have been associated with other RSIs as well.

Repetitive stress injuries can be very serious. They can lead to a loss of strength in the hands and wrists, making it difficult and painful to carry out routine daily tasks. In addition, RSIs often make it impossible to work at a computer for any length of time, which is a disaster to programmers and others who depend on using computers to make their livings. Some RSIs can be treated, but recovery times can be long and frustrating -- one young, healthy fellow I know suffered an RSI in his wrists, and it took him well over two years to recover.

People have turned to the field of ergonomics to try and understand repetitive stress injuries and their causes better. Ergonomics researchers study the relationship between people and their working environments; and a good deal of research has gone into the ways people injure themselves by using computers. Currently, the consensus seems to be that many repetitive stress injuries can be avoided by avoiding positions and situations that stress the body. [CAN I BACK THIS STATEMENT UP?]

There are a number of steps you can take to keep your body healthy when using computers. You can buy devices such as contoured chairs [PICTURE] and ergonomic keyboards [PICTURE] suitable for touch-typists. You can position your existing computer equipment to reduce the strain on your arms, wrists, neck, and back. You can also develop good habits in your computer use, being conscious of your body and the amount of uninterrupted time you spend on your computer.

Here are some basic guidelines. For more information, see [WHERE?].