Staying in one position isn’t good for our bodies. It decreases circulation and fatigues our muscles, increasing the risk of injury.
But many of us spend hours in front of a computer every work day. And many more of us spend our free time scrolling on our phones!
To help you stay injury-free, we asked certified ergonomic assessment specialist and hand therapist, Bobeya Krishnek MOT, OTR/L, CHT, CEAS, for her top ergonomic tips for speech-language pathology professionals.
For everything you need to assess, treat, and document, check out our bestselling Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack!
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Ergonomic Tips for SLPs
1. Request an ergonomic assessment from your workplace. Bobeya recommends an assessment for any worker who sits for most of the day.
The person who performs assessments may also be called an industrial hygienist or health and safety specialist. Check with your manager or human resources to see what’s available in your workplace.
2. Take a movement or stretch break every 30 minutes
Incorporate movement into your day to make sure you get those breaks:
- Stand when taking calls
- Go talk to a coworker or go to the printer
- Drink lots of water so that you take more frequent bathroom breaks!
- Use the stairs when you can
- Set a reminder on your phone or computer
Protect Your Vision
3. Take vision breaks. Look at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds during each movement break.
4. Get rid of glare. Be mindful of any light (sunlight, fluorescent, etc.) hitting your screen.
5. Don’t sit right in front of a window or right next to a window. Position your workspace so that the window is off to the side.
6. Consider blue-light blocking glasses. If you experience eyestrain, some people benefit from blue-light blocking glasses. There are affordable options at EyeBuyDirect, Amazon.com, etc.
7. Reposition your computer screen. If you have to spend many hours in front of a computer, such as in telehealth therapy, make sure that your screen is in an optimal position:
- The top of your screen should be at eye level
- Use a monitor stand. Or DIY by stacking books under your laptop or monitor
- The screen should be an arm’s length away. If you reach out your hand, your finger should brush the screen
- Use a detached keyboard and mouse. Laptop screens are too close
Support Good Posture
Set up your workspace to support good posture!
8. Your elbows should be close to your body. Another way to think of it is that your upper arms should be parallel to your trunk.
9. Your elbows should be at a 90 to 120-degree angle
10. Your wrists should be straight
11. Your wrists should “float” and not rest on a hard surface
12. Your keyboard and mouse should be at the same height
13. Your shoulders should be relaxed
14. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. Not crossed or folded up in your chair!
15. Your feet should be flat
If you’re in and out of your desk between patients, you may get away with using a laptop and making a few adjustments here and there.
But for those who spend hours in front of a screen, here is some equipment to help get that posture right!
16. Use a separate keyboard and mouse so that you’re not reaching forward to type
17. Use a split keyboard that’s slightly curved and an ergonomic mouse
18. Use a headset. Don’t hold a phone to your ear for long periods of time.
19. Use a footrest if your feet aren’t flat on the ground
20. Use the right chair
- Have lumbar support. DIY by rolling up a towel and placing it behind your lower back
- Use a chair that fits you well. This means that no hard parts should hit any part of your body
Cell Phone Ergonomic Tips
21. Switch the hands and fingers you use while scrolling so no joint gets overused
22. Use a pop socket
23. Use a phone cover with a non-slip surface