Special section

Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24(5):418-424    pdf


Job demands, muscle activity and musculoskeletal symptoms in relation to work with the computer mouse

by Jensen C, Borg V, Finsen L, Hansen K, Juul-Kristensen B, Christensen H

Objectives This study assessed work postures, movements, psychosocial job demands, and shoulder and wrist extensor muscle activity and registered the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms of computer-aided design (CAD) operators.

Methods A questionnaire survey was used to study the use of the computer mouse, psychosocial work factors, and musculoskeletal symptoms among 149 CAD operators. A workplace study was performed using observations, electrogoniometers on the wrists, and electromyography to measure exposures and physiological responses during CAD work among a subgroup of the CAD operators.

Results Musculoskeletal symptoms were far more prevalent for the arm or hand operating the mouse than for the other arm or hand, and women were more affected than men. The symptoms may be related to such risk factors as repetitive movements, static postures (eg, ulnar-deviated and extended wrist on the mouse side), and static muscular activation patterns. The risk factors were present due to continuous mouse use and possibly also due to high demands for mental attentiveness, precision, and information processing.

Conclusion Exposure during work with a computer mouse may present a risk for developing musculoskeletal symptoms. Improvements should focus on introducing more variation.