Recent research has proposed that office desks equipped with a simple forearm support could help to avoid pain that often comes with extended work at a computer.
Researchers conducted a year-long study of 182 workers at a call center and found that workers who received forearm supports for their desks had lesser likelihood of suffering pain or musculoskeletal injuries in the neck, shoulders, arm, wrist or hand.
The results of the study have been published in the British Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
According to Dr. David Rempel, the lead study author and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco the study used a padded board as forearm support, which attached to the front edge of workers' desks. The fleshy part of the forearm came directly over this support thereby positioning computer users' arms in such a way that tension was released in the shoulder muscles.
These findings could be used by employers to improve working conditions for workers who spend substantial time in front of a computer.
The study also compared results with a trackball which were found to be less effective.
In addition all employees at this call centre were also given ergonomics training to learn how to make their entire workstation more comfortable. Over the next year, it was found that workers who used a forearm support were much less likely as those who received only ergonomics training to be diagnosed with a neck or shoulder injury. Less pain in the neck, shoulders and right arm was also reported.
Rempel and his colleagues estimated the supports to be a worthwhile investment, when the potential savings in medical and workers' compensation expenses were considered..