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Forearm Support Decreases Neck and Shoulder Work Woes

Devices to help computer workers could pay for themselves in 10.6 months, researchers predict

FRIDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- A device that supports the forearm, when used in combination with ergonomic training, can significantly decrease neck and shoulder disorders in computer workers, according to a study published in the May issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

David M. Rempel, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed four strategies against upper-body pain and musculoskeletal problems in 182 HMO call-center operators for one year. These included ergonomics training; training combined with a trackball; training combined with a large forearm support; and training combined with the trackball and the forearm support.

Although 63 participants developed musculoskeletal disorders, the researchers found that participants who used the forearm support had fewer disorders and less pain in the neck and shoulder than those who did not use the support. Subjects who used a forearm support also had significantly less pain in the right upper extremity.

A return-on-investment calculation suggested that the cost of buying and installing forearm supports would be reimbursed in 10.6 months.

"Providing a large forearm support combined with ergonomic training is an effective intervention to prevent upper-body musculoskeletal disorders and reduce upper-body pain associated with computer work among call center employees," the authors conclude.

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