Monday, August 11, 2014
The ergonomics of standard QUERTY keyboards are bad enough for people of regular size – for larger people, the strain on the upper body is even worse resulting in significant upper-body muskuloskeletal discomfort and even injury.
Now a study by Matthew Smith and colleagues from the University of Georgia, published in Applied Ergonomics provides good evidence for the value of providing people with obesity ergonomically improved open-angle keyboards.
The researchers studied the use of these key boards in 22 office workers with overweight or obesity and found a significant decrease in lower back discomfort with no changes in overall typing performance.
The specific open-angle keyboards used in this study,
“…allows for up to 30° of angle in the keyboard as well as 30° of vertical inclination. The vertical inclination is referred to as a “tent” effect. These adjustments allow the user flexibility in the three-dimensional adjustment of the keyboard to allow for optimal hand placement while typing. These movement capabilities are intended to allow the users to make angular adjustments to the keyboard to minimize wrist supination and both radial and ulnar deviation, all of which are key factors in development of distal upper extremity musculoskeletal diseases.”
From this study the authors conclude that such relatively low-cost interventions can be introduced into the workforce to benefit workers without reducing short-term worker productivity.
Smith ML, Pickens AW, Ahn S, Ory MG, DeJoy DM, Young K, Bishop G, & Congleton JJ (2014). Typing performance and body discomfort among overweight and obese office workers: A pilot study of keyboard modification. Applied ergonomics PMID: 25082778