Guest Author - Marji Hajic
A few ergonomic alternatives to the traditional, under-the-desk keyboard trays.
Keynamics Keyboard Tray
For those who are not touch typists or who prefer to recline rather than sit upright in a chair, the Keynamics Keyboard Tray moves the keyboard higher and closes the gap between the keyboard and the monitor screen. This will reduce the constant neck movement associated with looking from one to the other. In addition, the slanted angle of the keyboard allows easier viewing of the keys. The angle enables the user to recline back in the chair which reduces pressure on the lumbar spine.
Concerns: The head is positioned forward of the shoulders when working in a reclined position. Also, it is more difficult to maintain the wrists in a neutral (not bent forward or back or angled side-to-side) position with a front-to-back angled keyboard or with a keyboard that is positioned higher. It is important to keep the elbows open to at least a 90 degree angle if not slightly more to prevent nerve entrapment at the elbow.
Keynamics Keyboard Holder
The PowerBoard is a wood keyboard platform with optional mouse support for either left or right side that is positioned on top of a corduroy bean bag. This is a lap keyboard holder that positions the keyboard 1 to 2 inches above the lap and allows you to adjust the tilt easily to your preference. This is a good alternative for those who need a lower keyboard, those whose work surface does not support enough room for the proper equipment (for example, corner desks or small spaces), those who are unable to make modifications to their current work station (for example, antique furniture that would be damaged by modifications or furniture that does not support a standard keyboard tray), or those who need a quick and inexpensive work station fix.
Concerns: The weight of the board on the legs may be bothersome. With this keyboard tray, you are trading positioning for loss of arm support from the chair armrests. You will need enough width in your chair to hold your elbows at your side without bumping into the armrests of the chair or you may need to remove the armrests.
Dex Dual Articulating Platforms
The Dex Dual Articulating Platforms are round or tear-drop shaped attachments that are placed onto each chair arm that support the keyboard and mouse. This places your work surface immediately in front of you as a natural extension of your arms, eliminating the need to reach forward or hunch over while typing. They also allow you to sit back in your chair and take advantage of its supporting features. The platforms attach easily with Velcro and neoprene holds the keyboard in place. The platforms swing away quickly to allow easy entrance and exit into the chair.
Concern: The extra length added to the chair may prevent you from getting in close to the monitor. Be aware of monitor screen distance to prevent eye strain. Moving the monitor closer or using an adjustable monitor arm may help.
Marji Hajic is an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.