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Ergonomics For Medical Transcriptionists: Ergonomics Tips For Computer Users

Updated on March 21, 2011


Medical transcription doesn't seem like it would be a physically taxing job but come to discover on a personal level, it truly is!

One of the main pitfalls of medical transcription (or in fact any heavy use of computers) is a malady that can shut down a promising career....overuse syndrome.

There are ways to prevent this of course but the most readily available and most easily accomplished treatment is to start off from the beginning being well acquainted with ergonomics.

Ergonomics in the workplace is essential for the MT but it is also just as essential for anyone working on a computer for more than 30 minutes per day.

Let's examine some of the basic points of ergonomics for the medical transcriptionist. See if some of these don't apply to you if you happen to be a computer user!



As recommended by


  • Computer monitor should be perpendicular to the window
  • Window coverings should be adjusted for sunlight as necessary
  • Keep materials handy - arranged by importance and frequency of use
  • Store reference materials within easy and comfortable reach
  • Avoid reaching and twisting to reach anything
  • Avoid excess noise
  • Keep your work space clean and free of unnecessary items

don't let this happen to you!
don't let this happen to you! | Source


The Body

  • Make sure that you quickly identify any symptoms of CTS immediately (numbness, tingling, aching in arms, hands or wrists)
  • Frequent breaks help prevent overuse syndromes
  • Wrists should be maintained in a straight position - use a wrist leveler if needed
  • Do not put pressure on your wrists while typing
  • A light touch while typing is recommended to prevent muscle and tendon injuries
  • Take care of your health in general
  • Smoking decreases circulation and can escalate overuse syndromes
  • Adjust your chair and keyboard to keep a straight wrist
  • Do not rest your wrist on any hard surface or any sharp surface
  • Mouse and trackball should be located next to the keyboard
  • Support feet on a footrest or keep flat on the floor
  • Keep the lower back supported
  • Armrests can be used to support the arms though avoid pressure on elbows
  • Adjust your chair into different positions and settings throughout the day
  • Avoid doing repetitive tasks hour after hour



Protect Your Sight

  • The monitor should be 18 to 30 inches from your eyes
  • Position desk light so that it does not shine on screen or in eyes
  • Reflective glare can be very fatiguing - watch out for shiny papers and posters
  • Computer monitors have brightness and contrast controls - adjust for maximum benefit
  • A clean screen helps you see better and with less effort
  • The top of the computer screen should be at eye level but lower if you wear bifocals
  • Reference materials should be placed at the same height as the monitor
  • Have your eyes checked regularly
  • Wear glasses if appropriate and make sure they are the correct strength



The fact of the matter is, when it comes to medical transcription or any prolonged computer use is that there are only so many firings of muscles that your body can take. Repetitive firing of muscles and tendons is what causes some of the worst overuse syndromes.

Having a care to ensure that your work environment is properly configured and that you make use of regular breaks will serve you well if you plan on continuing in medical transcription or do long term computer use.

Examine the recommended dimensions above to make sure that your work space is properly configured to allow you the optimum benefit ergonomically.

Invest in ergonomic equipment as well to help further take the tension off muscles, nerves and tendons. An ounce of prevention is worth 20 pounds of cure in this case!

For more information on ergonomics and medical transcription, visit and check out their great suggestions.


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Well, I have no doubt that your feet are are probably sitting in the 'big chair' will just have to get a chair more appropriate to your body habitus.

      A wrist leveler is something that keeps your wrist level without putting pressure on the soft tissues. You may need 2 if you persist in sitting in the 'big chair'.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      This is such important stuff to know, Audrey, I have been doing things all wrong. My computer screen is too close - I can't see it if I move it further back.

      My feet generally dangle from my chair - the seat is much too high and stuck in its present position. My posture - let's see, how should I describe it? - sucks!

      And a bunch of other posture no-no's. BTW, what is a wrist leveler? Maybe I need one ... or two.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Pamela - I hear you on the English as a second language! Thanks for the read!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Ergonomics is very important if you are spending hours at the computer. I was a medical transcriptionist for a period of time and one of my biggest problems was the accent of the doctors and understanding what they were trying to tell me. Interesting hub.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Hanna~!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Very, very informative and helpful hub for people who desperately in need of.


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