Document Type




Format of Original

15 p.

Publication Date



American Physical Therapy Association

Source Publication

Physical Therapy

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1093/ptj/83.9.816


Positioning a computer keyboard with a downward slope reduces wrist extension needed to use the keyboard and has been shown to decrease pressure in the carpal tunnel. However, whether a downward slope of the keyboard reduces electromyographic (EMG) activity of the forearm muscles, in particular the wrist extensors, is not known. Subjects and Methods. Sixteen experienced typists participated in this study and typed on a conventional keyboard that was placed on slopes. Electromyographic activity of the extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU), flexor carpi ulnaris (FCU), and flexor carpi radialis (FCR) muscles was measured with surface electrodes, while the extension and ulnar deviation angles of the right and left wrists were measured with electrogoniometers. Results. Wrist extension angle decreased from approximately 12 degrees of extension while typing on a keyboard with a 7.5-degree slope to 3 degrees of flexion with the keyboard at a slope of –15 degrees. Although the differences were in the range of 1% to 3% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC), amplitude probability distribution function (APDF) of root-mean-square EMG data points from the ECU, FCU, and FCR muscles varied across keyboard slopes. Discussion and Conclusion. Wrist extension decreased as the keyboard slope decreased. Furthermore, a slight decrease in percentage of MVC of the ECU muscle was noted as the keyboard slope decreased. Based on biomechanical modeling and published work on carpal tunnel pressure, both of these findings appear to be positive with respect to comfort and fatigue, but the exact consequences of these findings on the reduction or prevention of injuries have yet to be determined. The results may aid physical therapists and ergonomists in their evaluations of computer keyboard workstations and in making recommendations for interventions with regard to keyboard slope angle. [Simoneau GG, Marklin RW, Berman JE. Effect of computer keyboard slope on wrist position and forearm electromyography of typists without musculoskeletal disorders. Phys Ther. 2003;83:816–830.]


Published version. Physical Therapy, Vol. 83, No. 9 (2003): 816-830. DOI. © American Physical Therapy Association 2003. Used with permission.