Alternative Keyboards May Not Be The Answer
Concern that keyboard design may cause computer users to develop pain in the hands, wrists and arms–a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome–has led to the marketing of a new generation of keyboards. But are these “ergonomically correct” keyboards more beneficial than standard keyboards?
A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study suggests they aren’t. Researchers studied 50 female clerical workers who typed for two days on either a conventional keyboard or one of three alternative-design keyboards with a split-configuration (keys for the left and right hands on separate units). The workers reported only a low level of fatigue and discomfort, and there was no difference between keyboard designs. The study concluded that keyboard design may not be a significant factor affecting user comfort.
To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, the American Physical Therapy Association recommends the following:
- keep your wrists straight when typing
- limit the motion of your wrists
- avoid resting your wrists on the desktop
- use an adjustable keyboard tray to put the keyboard at the proper height
- take frequent breaks
- perform stretching exercises on your hands
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