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A randomised controlled trial evaluating an alternative mouse and forearm support on upper body discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders among engineers
  1. C F Conlon1,
  2. N Krause2,
  3. D M Rempel2
  1. 1
    School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
  2. 2
    Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA
  1. Dr D Rempel, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 1301 South 46th Street, Building 163, Richmond, CA 94804, USA; david.rempel{at}


Objectives: The aim of this intervention study was to determine the effects of an alternative mouse and/or a forearm support board on the change in upper body discomfort scores and the development of incident musculoskeletal disorders.

Methods: This randomised controlled intervention trial followed 206 engineers for one year. Participants were randomised to receive (1) a conventional mouse only, (2) an alternative mouse only, (3) a forearm support board, or (4) an alternative mouse plus forearm support board. Outcome measures included weekly upper body discomfort scores and incident musculoskeletal disorders.

Results: During the study, 42 participants were diagnosed with an incident musculoskeletal disorder. The group that received the forearm support board experienced a reduction in their right upper extremity discomfort (beta-coefficient −0.35, 95% CI −0.67 to −0.03) in comparison to those who did not receive a forearm board. The group that received the alternative mouse had a protective, but non-significant (p = 0.20), effect on incident cases of right upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (HR 0.57, 95% CI 0.24 to 1.34) and a non-significant reduction in neck/shoulder discomfort (beta-coefficient −0.23, 95% CI −0.056 to 0.10) in comparison to those who received a conventional mouse.

Conclusions: In engineers who use a computer for more than 20 h per week, a forearm support board may reduce right upper extremity discomfort attributed to computer use.

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