Effects of forearm and palm supports on the upper extremity during computer mouse use

Appl Ergon. 2014 May;45(3):564-70. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2013.07.016. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Abstract

The use of forearm and palm supports has been associated with lower neck and shoulder muscle activity as well as reduced musculoskeletal discomfort during keyboard use, however, few studies have investigated their effect during computer mouse use. Eight men and eight women completed several computer mousing tasks in six arm support conditions: Forearm Support, Flat Palm Support, Raised Palm Support, Forearm + Flat Palm Support, Forearm + Raised Palm Support, and No Support. Concurrently, an infrared three-dimensional motion analysis system measured postures, six-degree-of-freedom force-torque sensors measured applied forces & torques, and surface electromyography measured muscle activity. The use of forearm support compared to the no support condition was significantly associated with less shoulder muscle activity & torque, and the raised palm support was associated with less wrist extension. Forearm supports reduced shoulder flexion torque by 90% compared to no support. The use of either support also resulted in lower applied forces to the mouse pad. Participants reported less musculoskeletal discomfort when using a support. These results provide recommendations for office workstation setup and inform ergonomists of effective ways to reduce musculoskeletal exposures.

Keywords: Arm supports; Computer mouse use; Office workstation design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Peripherals* / standards
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / prevention & control
  • Elbow / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Ergonomics / instrumentation
  • Ergonomics / methods
  • Female
  • Forearm / physiology*
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posture / physiology
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Young Adult