Professional use of a computer increasingly entails the use of efficient peripheral equipment. The mouse and the keyboard are two of the most important input devices. Incorrect use and frequently unergonomical devices are increasingly the cause of health problems, as both place an undue burden on the spinal column (particularly the cervical spine), the muscles and joints (primarily shoulder and hand). These massive strains, possibly also in combination with stress, can make the user ill in the long term.
This is detrimental to output and quality while increasing the periods of absence for sick leave. It even has a negative impact on the user's own quality of life, at the latest when the problems become chronic.
The question here is how can these problems be dealt with? The fact is, the more countermeasures that are taken, the greater the probability of finding the solution. Here too we have to learn to relax, to cope properly with negative stress; supervisors must act as a role model with a humane approach to leadership, and we must move more – in the workplace and also in our leisure time, etc.
Further, indispensable help comes from designing the whole workplace according to ergonomic, back-friendly aspects. This includes among others the lighting, available space, room climate, even the colour scheme in the room, the furnishings and naturally also ergonomically designed, user-friendly keyboards and mouse devices to relieve the pressure on the user instead of compounding the problems.
The mouse should permit an ergonomically appropriate working position that counteracts problems in the wrist joint and in the linked chain of joints and muscles through to the cervical spine.
An ergonomic keyboard allows the user to hold his or her hands in a physically appropriate way, thus helping to prevent tension- and stress-related pain in the first place.
When handling all these input devices, as a general rule the upper and lower arm should preferably be held at right angles to keep the load of the arm as close as possible to the spinal column. In this context it is naturally also important to consider the height of the working surface, the desk and the adjustment of the chair.
Every increase in distance between hands and spinal column results in higher static strain which can cause problems in the long run. It is beneficial to the health to keep the input devices as close as possible to the body. The so-called "long arm" position frequently causes problems in the shoulders. The further the hand is from the body, the greater the strain in the cervical column. This can cause stress and tension in the long run. It must be possible to rest the wrist joints in relaxed fashion when not entering data on the computer, e.g. with an integrated wrist support.
Computer input devices are part of a comprehensive VDU workplace system. Their functionality depends on the ergonomic design of the whole system.