If you or someone you know is facing challenges or pain associated with excessive time on the computer, you are in luck. New technology always brings new challenges. While computers are certainly not new at this point, the knowledge of how to use them correctly without creating unnecessary stress and strain on the tissues has come a long way in the past twenty years. Research and experience is showing that we have a lot more control of our situation than what was once thought. Ergonomic specialists, medical doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists all work to help reduce stress and improve your efficiency while working at the computer. Physical therapists, because of their extensive knowledge and training on neuromuscular movement patterns, are often in the best position to help guide the recommendations and changes recommended for the individual. There are many factors associated with modifying someone’s work station and their use of it. What follows is a breakdown of some of these factors and recommendations for how you can obtain the help you need to reduce pain and increase function, productivity and overall enjoyment of what you do.
Here are some factors associated with the setup of your ergonomic workstation:
Factors associated with your monitor include lighting, (specifically the angle of your screen(s) vs. natural and other light sources to reduce glare), distance from your eyes to the monitor, angle of the monitor, height of the monitor, position of the monitor in relation to the mouse, your body, etc. Many people these days now find themselves with two or more monitors, CPUs and/or mice, sometimes multiple and sometimes only one keyboard and mouse.
Factors associated with your keyboard include tray vs. no tray and position of it, position of the keyboard in relation to your body, your monitor(s), your mouse/mice or other navigational tools.
Factors associated with your mouse or other navigational tools include distance from body, angle of shoulder, elbow and wrist to use it effectively
Factors associated with your chair include height, adjustability, lumbar support, wheels and ease of movement
Factors associated with your general desk setup include desk height, phone, headset, printer/fax location(s) and variability
Factors associated with you include general health, flexibility and strength, general and specific postural tendencies and frequent breaks
As you can see there are many factors with each and every component and depending on how you integrate all of them, they all work together for your benefit or detriment. There are general parameters used by ergonomic specialists regarding the set-up of a workstation, but training and biases do vary from specialist to specialist. Ultimately, the goal should be to find a situation that is as ergonomically correct and comfortable as possible for you and is doable on a regular basis no matter where you are. Different recommendations may be made based on the situation. A good physical therapist and ergonomist realizes that every individual is different and that as a result they will respond differently to the stresses placed upon them. This is why a multi-faceted approach is the only way to truly create a permanent, positive change in your ability to use the computer for work and pleasure. Lee H. Kole, PT, of BreakThrough Physical Therapy, in Sunnyvale, CA, states, “To develop a complete picture of each patient’s situation and an individualized plan, it is critical that we take the time necessary to ask the right questions of our patients. In most cases, we can have a positive result without ever going to their worksite. This is because we train our patients to thrive in any situation, not just one.”
Physical therapists are licensed medical practitioners with extensive training in anatomy, physiology, neurology. They are highly qualified in analyzing and making recommendations for, even training improved movement patterns. A large part of how most therapists operate is to educate you thoroughly about your specific situation and make appropriate recommendations. Because of this knowledge and ability to assess you and your individual situation, they understand all of the aforementioned factors and are often in the best position to help guide you towards the results you deserve.
BreakThrough Physical Therapy provides a high level of service and attention to every detail whether it is a “weekend warrior” or high level athlete looking to truly optimize their performance. Their website, www.BreakThroughPT.com , showcases all the people they have helped in various sports specific capacities over the years and it is clear that their team of trained therapists is ready to help many more people to enjoy life to the fullest.
Lee Kole has been in outpatient orthopedic practice since 1998. After completing the bachelor’s program at the University of Oregon with a degree in exercise and movement science and a minor in biology, Lee obtained his physical therapy degree from Fontys Hogeschool Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
Lee is passionate about helping patients achieve their goals and his team uses a comprehensive approach consisting of patient education, manual therapy, and functional training. He enjoys working with patients with a wide variety of orthopedic needs. From sports-specific injuries to chronic-pain issues, Lee and his team take the lessons from each encounter and apply them to the next. Lee ensures that there is a high level of communication between the therapists at BreakThrough Physical Therapy so that they are all learning and sharing with one another to provide each patient the very best experience and results. In 2007, Lee was selected to present at the national American Physical Therapy Association Conference in Denver, Colorado. He was honored to work with a local physician to train other therapists on improved concepts and methods for posture and body mechanics during keyboarding and computer work with the goal of injury prevention.
BreakThrough Physical Therapy opened in Sunnyvale July 19, 2004 with the goal of providing the highest level of care, quality reporting, convenient scheduling, and efficient billing systems to ensure that our patients enjoy an experience that is consistent from their first contact with our facility. They are continually improving their systems and adding professional and support staff that uphold these same values.