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What is an Ergonomic Computer?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 17, 2024
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An ergonomic computer is a computer composed of ergonomically-designed parts and accessories, such as an ergonomic keyboard, monitor, and mouse. An ergonomic computer is also typically supported by an ergonomic workstation, which includes an ergonomically-designed computer desk and chair. The ergonomic computer has become a concept of increasing importance in the new millennium, as computers have moved into the majority of homes and workplaces. As such, some of the ramifications of using non-ergonomic computers and workstations over an extended period of time, particularly repetitive stress injuries, have become a workplace health and safety concern in the last decade.

Unlike the typical flat keyboard, an ergonomic keyboard may include various sloped sections, which are designed to fit the wrist and finger contours and minimize strain on the muscles and tendons in order to prevent Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Other ergonomic keyboards are split up into separate pieces, which may be moved around to fit the user’s hand position with minimal strain. Ergonomic keyboards on the market include: the Kinesis Freestyle™ keyboard, the Maltron keyboard, the Apple Adjustable keyboard, the Microsoft Natural keyboard, and the Key Tronic keyboard.

Ergonomic monitors or ergonomic computer screens may be flat-panel screens which are mounted on an adjustable stand, allowing the user to swivel the screen in any direction. This pivoting action enables the user to adjust the monitor so that it is parallel to the eyes and far enough away (at a recommended arms-length) to minimize eye and neck strain. Other monitors considered to be ergonomic include those that come with an anti-glare filter, which is designed to reduce headaches caused by eyestrain.

Unlike the slightly-rounded shape of a traditional computer mouse, an ergonomic computer mouse may come in a variety of different shapes, typically with more pronounced grooves to properly fit the mold of the hand. An ergonomic mouse may resemble a “joystick” used for gaming, or even a pen. Most ergonomic mice are also wireless, to minimize potential wrist strain caused by restrictive wires.

Ergonomically-designed desk accessories may also accompany an ergonomic computer. These accessories include gel “wrist wrests” that are placed below the keyboard, as well as roll-out or “articulating” keyboard trays that are positioned at a comfortable level slightly lower than the computer monitor.

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