Sore back? Your new home office may be to blame, and here's how to get help

To help Islanders working from home, UPEI's Active Living Lab is offering free online appointments to receive ergonomic assessments. 

'Being uncomfortable is a sign that something's not right'

UPEI's online ergonomic assessments are available to people working from home on P.E.I. and take about 30 minutes. (Submitted by Carrie Jones)

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, kitchens and living rooms across P.E.I. have been transformed into makeshift home offices. 

To help Islanders working from home, UPEI's Active Living Lab is offering free appointments to receive online ergonomic assessments. Islanders can schedule an appointment with the lab online for a virtual assessment, said Carrie Jones, a kinesiologist with the lab.

"You want to keep your shoulders relaxed," she said. "Being uncomfortable is a sign that something's not right." 

Jones said people will be asked to send a few pictures of their current home office setup before their assessment, to give the person conducting it a sense of the situation.

'A brainstorm session'

The assessment itself takes about 30 minutes and involves an expert who will give a rundown of what good ergonomics looks like and will then offer assistance in coming up with the best office configuration possible. 

"I just need to see the stuff you're working with, but really it's going to be a brainstorm session ... to figure out what we can MacGyver together," she said. 

Jones said one of the most common mistakes people make is using their laptop for prolonged periods of time. 

"One of the most important things is to separate your screen from your keyboard by working with an external keyboard and a mouse. It's almost impossible to work well with a laptop."

She said the problem comes from having the screen and the keyboard too close together, which can result in poor posture and awkward body positions. 

Most common injuries

"You need your screen up at eye-height so you can keep your neck nice and straight and so that you're looking straight ahead and you need your keyboard down where your elbows are." 

It's almost impossible to work well with a laptop.— Carrie Jones, kinesiologist with UPEI's Active Living Lab

Jones said back and neck injuries tend to be among the most common she sees, as a result of poor ergonomics in home offices.

"Sitting does put a lot of strain on the lower back," she said.

The Workers Compensation Board is helping fund the project with the aim of helping reduce injuries and help people return from work who have been injured.

Jones said people can go to the lab's website if they're interested in arranging an assessment

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.

  • Practise social distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning


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