Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24(1):62-73    pdf


Computer mouse position as a determinant of posture, muscular load and perceived exertion

by Karlqvist LK, Bernmark E, Ekenvall L, Hagberg M, Isaksson A, Rostö T

Objectives This study concerned the influence of 6 positions of the computer mouse on the work table on posture, muscular load, and perceived exertion during text editing.
Methods An optoelectronic 3-dimensional motion analysis system was used to register the postures of 10 men and 10 women using video display units. Muscular load was also registered (with electromyography), as was perceived exertion (with rating scales).

Results A neutral posture with a relaxed and supported arm showed the least perceived exertion, and the electromyographic results showed low activity in both trapezius muscles in this position. Short operators (all women) showed a numerically higher activity in the 4 examined muscles than the tall operators (all men, except 1). This finding could be related to lower muscle force among women and to anthropometric differences, which also influence biomechanic load moments. Narrow-shouldered operators (8 women and 1 man) and short operators worked with larger outward rotation and abduction of the shoulder in a position of the mouse lateral to the keyboard than the broad-shouldered (7 men and 2 women) and tall operators did. Arm support markedly reduced muscle load in the neck-shoulder region among the operators.

Conclusion The operators using video display units in this study preferred to use the mouse on a table in a close to relaxed, neutral posture of the arm in combination with arm support. Short and narrow-shouldered operators worked in more strenuous postures of the arm when the mouse was located lateral to the keyboard.