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  • Computer Use and Cervical Spine Injury

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    Old 10-07-2005, 06:47 PM   #1
    notpain
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    Join Date: Jul 2005
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    notpain HB User
    Computer Use and Cervical Spine Injury

    I thought I'd take a moment to write a bit on this subject because this is what has caused my problems not trauma, not accident, just many many long days in front of the computer with poor posture. It's my job like many of you who use PC's each day for many many hours. As I got tired I found myself leaning my head towards the screen (I know this now in hindsight but not at the time). I had no pain using the computer and everything crashed in on the same day - if only I had warning pains. Honestly I had 2 serverly degenrated discs, and a herniated disc (3 levels) before my body told me something was wrong and when it did - BAM, GAME OVER. BTW - while there seems to be little or no education about posture and ergonomics outside of big corporations it's very common to talk to pain management doctors, surgeons, etc. and have them tell you there are many many people in their offices as a result of computer related injury. IF YOU HAVE KIDS, CO-WORKERS, FRIENDS OR FAMILY THAT USE COMPUTERS IN THEIR JOBS OR AT SCHOOL MAKE THEM READ THE POSTING ON THESE HEALTH BOARDS AND HOPEFULLY IT WILL HELP THEM. Anyways a few things I have found that have helped.

    1. Do not use a corner desk - the screen gets pushed too far back and you instinctively move your head forward to see it. I had a big corner desk thought it was great - room on each side. WRONG! Very hard to get an ergo set up with a corner desk and a conventional CRT.

    2. Take breaks often and move around as much as you can. That means get up completely out of the chair and walk around and move some fluid through your spine.

    3. Get the best chair you can possibly afford if you plan to continue working and get a chair with neck roll or a headrest and make a conscious effort to keep your head against it. I have demo'd the "Leap" from Steelcase, the "Areon" from Henry Miller, "Freedom" from Humanscale, and the Bodybilt chairs (for taller people). All are good, I like the Leather Leap and Bodybilt best. Don't just buy one, try one! Most companies will loan you these chairs for a couple of days. These are expensive and its worth their time to do so. Don't be afraid to ask. I just opened up the phone book, told them I had spine problems and needed the very best chair. Many will even deliver them to your office or home to try. Unfortuanately you don't often find these in Office Supply stores, you have to go to the companies that furnish the corporations. And they cost around $1,000 but it could save you many times that down the road.

    4. Get a LCD Screen that is fully adjustable. Better yet look up Dental & Medical Supply companies and buy a swingarm (really long and adjustable monitor arm) so you can position your screen where you want. These are awesome you can mount the screen from the wall or the ceiling and position it anywhere you want. And when you get tired pull it towards you instead of moving your head. My old 20" Sony is a good monitor, but my 19" LCD is much much better. The Sony is 50lbs+ the new monitor about 10lbs and much more adjustable.

    5. I went a step further - bought a recliner, use a lumbar pillow and put the LCD on a swingarm so I can recline and pull the screen right in front of me. There is a company making a "Personal Computer Environment" mypce.com that look interesting albeit spendy. You can get a keyboard tray on the arm or you can invest in a cheap firm pillow and use it as a tray for your keyboard - just put it on your legs. Obviously this is in my home office not a work office. Invest in a wireless mouse and keyboard combo so you can put these items where they are most comfortable.

    6. Buy a cheap soft collar and wear it loosly around your neck when you work. This will not really support your head much but will serve as a reminder to keep your neck in the proper posture. It is very easy to get a head forward postion going without it, but with it you are constantly reminded to keep your head up. This shouldn't make your neck weak because it's basically just telling you to keep your posture.

    7. Don't work more than 6 hours a day on the computer - and that means a minimum of 6 5 minute breaks inbetween, plus a longer break at the halfway point. Honestly I was a work-a-holic (which is why I am not in the position I'm in suffering constantly) and it just doesn't pay. Do as much as you can in that 6 hours and don't talk yourself into doing more.

    8. Don't work on the PC with your feet off the floor - get a footrest and a properly adjusted keyboard tray or labtop desk. I used to kick off my shoes and put my feet on the desk and kept on working. I can only imagine the "C" shape I put my spine in didn't do anything for my neck. It's a wonder I don't feel back pain too.

    9. Get a headset for your telephone so you never have to bend your head wrong cradeling the phone. Never type with a phone on your shoulder.

    You'll spend a couple grand doing it right but it's SO CHEAP COMPARED TO THE ALTERNATIVE. Plus it allows me to continue to work when I would otherwise be disabled (I may end up there anyways, I'm close but for now I keep fighting it).

     
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    Old 10-08-2005, 09:01 AM   #2
    wimpette
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    Join Date: Jan 2005
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    Re: Computer Use and Cervical Spine Injury

    Thanks, that's great advice. Surprising how much damage we can do to ourselves in the sitting postion. I personally have found the tip about wearing a soft collar in front of the computer screen to be very useful.

    Obviously your typing speed is better than mine - I would have used up my alloted 6.5 hours writing that message
    W

     
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