The Ergonomics of Laptops

Laptops were never designed to be implemented as everyday computers. They were meant to be portable, flexible devices that we used on occasion, mainly to input data quickly while away from our desk. And yet we not only use laptops more and more at home, but they are becoming more popular than desktop computers in many workplaces.

From an ergonomic perspective, achieving entirely neutral postures while using a laptop is impossible. When a laptop is positioned properly to promote neutral wrist and shoulder postures, it is poorly positioned for the neck (i.e. we must look down at the screen). And vice versa, when a laptop is positioned properly to promote neutral neck postures, it leaves us with bent wrists and elevated shoulders for typing and mousing.

If a laptop is your main computer, the optimal way to use it at your desk is like that of a desktop computer. A few simple accessories can help you achieve this:

  1. External Monitor Ė Plug an external monitor into your laptop and use your laptop as a hard drive only. Your eyes may thank you for the larger screen size.
  2. Laptop Stand/Riser Ė Instead of a separate monitor, use a riser to elevate the laptop so that the top of the laptop screen is aligned with the userís seated (or standing) eye height to promote neutral neck postures when viewing.
  3. External Keyboard & Mouse Ė An external keyboard should be positioned in front of the user, and set at a height to align it with the userís seated (or standing) elbow height to ensure neutral wrist and shoulder postures for typing. An external mouse should be positioned alongside the keyboard to further ensure neutral shoulder and wrist postures.

With a few accessories, being ergonomic with a laptop isnít necessarily impossible!

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