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Ergonomic Tips for Computer Users and Medical Transcriptionists

Audrey is a medical transcriptionist, instructor, writer, photographer, and dog trainer who writes on a variety of topics.

Ergonomics and Medical Transcription

Ergonomics and medical transcription should go hand in hand. Often, they do not. Sadly, even with the information available today and the ready availability of ergonomic equipment, many medical transcriptionists and computer users lose their jobs each year due to overuse syndromes.

There are many ways to prevent this from happening. Although ergonomic equipment and supplies are an important part of the picture, there are other ways that the long-term computer user and the medical transcriptionist can make their work environment not only a pleasant one but one that is also physically conducive to this line of work.

Let's examine some of the ergonomic possibilities for the medical transcriptionist and the computer user.


Ergonomic Exercises

  • The eyes have it. Computer work of any kind is very demanding on the eyes. The key to avoiding eye fatigue from computer work is to take frequent small breaks (recommended at 30 seconds to 2 minutes by
  • Have a huge yawn. Yawning and blinking are also great forms of exercise for your eyes because these motions add lubrication to your eyes.
  • Cover your eyes. Covering your eyes with your hands and breathing deeply can help refresh tired eyes and helps avoid eye strain, which is a common malady for computer users.
  • Alternative focus. Periodically focusing your eyes elsewhere rather than on your computer screen will also reduce eyestrain and help your eyes feel more refreshed.

More Exercises to Avoid Overuse Syndromes

Try some of these exercise ideas during breaks away from the computer:

  • Breathing deeply is always a great tension reliever and carries oxygen to muscles and tendons.
  • Massage fingers, wrists, arms, and neck in between sessions of working at the computer.
  • Simple exercises like repeated shoulder shrugs can loosen tense muscles in the shoulders and neck.
  • Hand exercises such as gripping and bending your hand back gently stretches out muscles that have become cramped from being kept in one position.
  • Hand putty is a great way to increase muscle tone in your hands and wrists and comes in various resistances.
  • Using light arm weights several times a day to do arm curls or various exercises increases your muscle tone and strength.
  • Stretch your back and neck frequently throughout shifts at the computer to prevent spasms and pain.
  • Keep up with a daily fitness program religiously to aid in circulation and limber up stiff muscles and joints.
  • Drink plenty of water while working to prevent dehydration which causes muscle contraction and pain.
  • Move around frequently and don't stay in one position for long periods of time

Ergonomics and Preventing Body Fatigue

Medical transcriptionists or computer users on any level know the frustration of discomforts like back pain, neck pain, stiffness, and cramping.

Overuse syndromes can also create sore hands and wrists or even wooden or tired leg syndromes.

The most important thing you can do to prevent the above is to make sure you have a healthy diet, exercise regularly for at least 35 minutes per day, and get plenty of sleep.

You should also minimize doing these things if you want to avoid the repercussions of overuse syndromes due to computer use:

  • Twisting and sitting in awkward positions
  • Keeping in the same position for long periods of time
  • Reaching for things repetitively or over-reaching
  • Causing muscles to fire repetitively and doing the same task over and over
  • Putting pressure on the soft tissues of your body—such as draping your wrist over the desk shelf or resting elbows on armrests
  • Performing forceful exertions such as repetitive stapling or typing with a heavy hand
  • Doing any repetitive task while in an awkward position

Ergonomics and Good Work Habits

No matter if you're a medical transcriptionist or a long-term computer user, there are things that you can do to reduce the stress on your body from prolonged sitting and prolonged keyboarding.

Here are a few tips for improving your work environment:

  • The height of your chair should be set so that the back of your seat has contact with the most curved portion of your lower back. This gives you added support and prevents back problems and pain.
  • Only use chairs with armrests that are height adjustable. You should not be hunching or slouching your shoulders to use them.
  • Apply a recovery phase whenever possible, meaning you should alternate the use of a mouse and the keyboard as this allows muscles to recover from one task to the next.
  • Keeping a light touch on the mouse and the keyboard cuts down the pound per square inch toll on arms, hands, and fingers.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse to reduce overworking forearm and wrist muscles.
  • If you use the mouse more than the keyboard, the mouse should be more central to your hand.
  • Keep a straight wrist while typing at all times.
  • Adjust chair height to ensure a straight wrist and if necessary, add a footrest.
  • Monitors should be 18 to 30 inches from your eyes.
  • Use document holders if you type from books or papers.
  • Your arms should be held in a relaxed position at all times.
  • Legs should not dangle and should be either flat on the floor or on a footrest to avoid strain on the low back.

Ergonomics Tips for Computer Users

It's a wonderful age in that so many of us can find jobs that we can do from home, such as medical transcription or online computer work. However, sometimes the possibility of overuse syndromes does not occur to people until, unfortunately, it's too late.

Taking some steps in advance to ensure that you have the best possible work environment to prevent these syndromes is the best course of action to take. Also, investing in proper ergonomically sound equipment and devices is another great way to avoid crippling problems down the road.

Overuse syndromes are no laughing matter, but with some attention to prevention, people can enjoy a long and fruitful career in medical transcription and online computer work.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 28, 2011:

Thanks for stopping by, Katie!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on February 28, 2011:

Great information we content writers can benefit from as well. I appreciate your many helpful tips on ergonomics for computer users. :) Katie

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 21, 2011:

Thanks, Darski - it does make a lot of difference how you are 'set up'!

Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on February 20, 2011:

Great hub Autrey, I worked for a company that followed thise dsigns for all their staff, This is wise hub and I set up my office this way...rate up, love & peace darski