Healthy Computing: Create Mousing Space

Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with
Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay
healthier while working.


Do you find yourself reaching out to use your mouse, which is shunted to
the side of your wide keyboard? Are you developing mouse shoulder or mouse
arm because of the increased muscle tension from arm abduction as you
reach for your mouse? Bring the mouse closer and make the keyboarding
tasks more comfortable when you CREATE MOUSING SPACE.

How to CREATE MOUSING SPACE:

If you are not using the number pad as the major part of your data entry,
and you have the budget to do so, replace your keyboard with one that is
narrower or one that is split with the 10-key pad imbedded in the
keyboard. A narrower keyboard will help you maintain your health,
especially if you are petite or small.

  1. The split feature helps reduce wrist (carpal tunnel) irritation by
    allowing straight (neutral) wrists when typing.

  2. The narrow keyboards reduce unnecessary arm, shoulder, and neck tension
    by allowing placement of the pointing device in the center or closer to
    your side.

Test ride and substitute narrow or split keyboards without attached number
pads for normal or ergonomic wide keyboards. (Research studies* at SFSU
have shown that the wider, ergonomic keyboards contribute significantly to
arm and shoulder tension when mousing.) Check out the following:

  • TypeMatrix Comprehensive ergonomic design with imbedded keypad
    http://www.typematrix.com

  • Goldtouch Adjustable keyboard

    Home Page

  • MAXIM adjustable ergonomic keyboard
    http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/max-spec.htm

  • Ergomagic keyboard
    www.comfortkeyboard.com/

  • KBPC E Keyboard
    http://www.fujitsu-siemens.com/rl/peripherals/keyboards/kbpce.html

If your budget prohibits purchase of a new keyboard, check out EBay
auctions for used or wholesale keyboards.

Or, adjust your workstation keyboard space:

  • Create a keyboard tray by clamping a plywood board on the shallow middle
    drawer of your desk. Make sure that it that is wide enough for both the
    keyboard and the mouse.

  • Clamp an extension (e.g., clip board) onto your keyboard tray if it is
    too narrow for mouse use.

  • Use a mouse bridge over the 10-key pad if you infrequently use the 10-
    key pad.

Regardless of ergonomics, take your micro-, meso- and macro-movement
breaks. Remember, remaining healthy while working at the computer
includes work style and work attitude.

* Harvey; R. & Peper, E. (1997). Surface electromyography and mouse
position use. Ergonomics. 40 (8), 781-789.

Avatar Written by Erik Peper PhD

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