Workstation Ergonomics – and Why There’s No Such Thing as ‘Just a Mouse Pad’

Feb 6, 2020 | Blog

It’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve never seen another mouse pad like the mouse pad on our Jaco carts. That’s because most workstation manufacturers haven’t invested the same degree of ergonomic research and iterative design improvement into their mouse pads as we have into ours.

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The mouse pad on every Jaco cart (like the EVO, shown) sits just above the edge of the keyboard – a position that prevents, and can even relieve, the shoulder, arm and wrist pain caused by an improperly positioned mouse.

Ergonomic mouse position

There are all sorts of reasons a nurse’s shoulder, arm or wrist might hurt. But more often than you think, a poorly positioned mouse pad might be the most likely culprit.

On too many mobile workstations, the mouse pad extends off the left or right edge of the keyboard tray. This may seem like the correct position. But in fact it causes nurses assume and sustain three very harmful postures repeatedly throughout every shift:

  • Abducted shoulder, or a shoulder rotated away from the center of the body. Holding this position puts sustained pressure on the shoulder joint and encourages bad back posture in compensation.
  • Extended forearm, which continuously strains the elbow joint and forearm muscles.
  • Extended wrist, which is the wrong starting posture for using the mouse – and which stresses and compresses the carpal tunnel.

All three postures can cause nurses pain over time – sometimes over a very short time. And all three are so unnecessary. Years ago, the Cornell Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group discovered that by positioning the mouse pad an inch or two over the right (or left) edge of the keyboard, all of these postures can be avoided. In fact, proper mouse position not only prevents pain, it can actually relieve it. (Read the case study.) 

That’s why, for 10+ years now, we’ve equipped our carts with mouse pads that swing over the keyboard, essentially covering the number keypad. This allows nurses to use the mouse in a proper comfortable position, and to swing the pad away for access to the number keypad when needed. You won’t find this on any other EHR cart.

Mouse cable management

It seems like a small thing, but mouse cable management can be a real annoyance for anyone using a mobile workstation. Typically, the choices are: 

  • Use some sort of cable management/strain relief that stays out of the nurse’s way and allows enough slack for freedom of movement, but not enough for the mouse to fall off the mouse pad, or
  • Use a wireless mouse – which has to be holstered, which adds another step to the data entry process (and another tool that nurses have to manage at the bedside)

Our engineers experimented with multiple solutions for this problem before we came up with a third and better option: The adjustable wire rim on the edge of our mouse pad. It keeps the mouse cord under control, while providing as much slack as the nurse needs. It can be repositioned anywhere along the circumference of the mouse pad, to secure the mouse in whatever way the nurse finds most comfortable. And it’s so unobtrusive that most customers don’t even know it’s there, until we show it to them!

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The innovative cable management wire rim on Jaco’s mouse pad keeps the mouse safely in place even when the keyboard and mouse trays are folded down.

Details matter

If you’ve read this far you might ask, all this for a mouse pad? The answer is of course – we don’t know any other way. Our engineers are always looking for ways to help nurses work more comfortably, with fewer distractions, so they can focus on delivering the highest quality care to their patients. A mouse pad might seem like a small thing. But for a nurse who uses it during every patient interaction, shift after shift, day after day and year after year, getting that small thing right makes a big difference.

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