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Don’t Let School from Home be a Pain in the Neck!

Feb 2, 2021

Written by: Megan Sliski, PT, DPT

Child typing on computer with title of blog post.

The COVID-19 pandemic began almost one year ago. Many of us have been spending increased time at home– some of us are even working at home and our children are attending school and therapies at home. 

Take a second to consider the set-up of the desk, table, chair and computer that your child is working at day to day when completing school work or therapies. Did you know that there are recommendations for the placement of these objects for proper posturing to prevent pain and discomfort?

Elementary age child sitting in a chair showing her school work to her class on a computer screen.

Keyboard

An ergonomic keyboard is created with an angle to allow the user’s wrist to be kept in a neutral position.

Why is this important?

When the wrist is maintained in a flexed position for an extended period of time, it can result in numbness, tingling, or pain on the palm of the hand (sometimes known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome).

Ergonomic keyboard structure for wrist support during typing

Computer Mouse

The mouse used with the computer should be located at the same level as the keyboard. Maintain the mouse directly in front of you to prevent strain on the wrist. A slanted mouse (as pictured) or an elevated mouse pad are recommended to maintain a neutral position of the wrist.

Why is this important?

When the wrist is placed in a flexed or twisted position, this increases the risk of pinching nerves within the hand. The result of prolonged twisted or flexed wrist positioning may result in similar (or other) symptoms as those listed above under indications for an ergonomic keyboard.

Correct position for the wrist when holding a computer mouse

Computer Chair

The best chair for long-term (or any kind of sitting) is a chair that molds to the curves and shapes of the human body. An ideal ergonomic computer/workstation chair will include arm rests, appropriate lumbar support, and will allow the feet to rest flat on the ground, comfortably. Ideally, the elbows should rest at a 90 degree angle on the armrests and the forearms should be fully supported. If your knees drop below your hips when sitting, a foot rest is recommended to maintain a 90 degree angle between the hips and knees. 

Why is this important?

The positioning of the chair is important to prevent proper posturing of all parts of the body, especially the spine. “Hunched” or “kyphotic” posture can result in lower, middle, and upper back pains,

For more ideas on Flexible Seating Options, Check out our other blog post Ergonomics, Flexible Seating, & Eye Health during Virtual Learning!

Ergonomic seating diagram

Computer Monitor

A good measure for body distance from the computer screen/monitor is one extended arm length away. The goal is to maintain the eye site line at the top of the monitor, or 1 inch lower. 

Why this is important?

Sitting too close or too far from the monitor can cause eye strain. Keeping the eye site line level with the monitor prevents excessive increases in motion of the neck. Too much flexion or extension of the neck for long periods of time can cause pinching of the nerves and result in neck/back pain, numbness, or tingling.

Ergonomic seating diagram

Have you tried any of these ergonomic options at home? Do you have questions or comments regarding your current setup?

Comment or share with us below!

1 Comment

  1. mary pengelley

    Great reminders and positive suggestions – so important to remember every time we are working at the computer! Thank you Megan Sliski!

    Reply

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