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This page was last updated on: 23 October, 2012
Case Study:
Let's Meet Deborah
Deborah's Strengths:
Experienced computer user
Knows several programming languages
Expert in database design and Web design

Deborah's Work Challenges:
Myofascial pain in back, shoulders, and arms
Moderate carpal tunnel syndrome in left hand, severe carpal tunnel syndrome in right hand
Problems with fatigue from fibromyalgia
Pain from prolapsed cervical disk and neck surgery to correct it

Deborah's Job:
Designing Internet based database interfaces for an entrepreneurial start up company.

Experiencing pain in neck, shoulders, back, elbows, wrists, and hands in varying intensities while working on the computer at her workstation. She spent equal amounts of time drawing with the mouse, and typing on the keyboard. An assessment determined that her monitor was to low, and she was straining her neck. The keyboard was on a tray at the correct height, but there was not enough room for the mouse. She was holding her arm in an awkward position to access the mouse, straining her elbow and shoulder.
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Her monitor was placed on a set of monitor risers. The surface of the existing keyboard tray was replaced with a longer board with enough room for her mouse and keyboard. Her chair was adjusted to support her better. A new trackball was purchased that held her hand in what she felt was a comfortable position, with her wrist straight. No arm movement was needed to operate the trackball. Cost was about $130.

Follow up:
The rehabilitation engineer followed up with Deborah two months after the accommodations were made. Her fibromyalgia had improved and carpal tunnel syndrome had gotten worse, so she could no longer use the trackball because it had become uncomfortable for her. Her shoulder and elbow were not bothering her, but her hands had started to hurt even worse.

She was re-evaluated for a pointing device. We found a mouse that would hold her wrist straight while she used it. Using a mouse would put more effort on her shoulder and elbow, but it would relieve some of the stress on her fingers. Cost of the new mouse was about $80.

Follow up:
Follow-up after a month showed that this solution was working. Deborah's fibromyalgia was getting better, so the pain in her shoulders and elbows was decreasing.

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