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Ergonomics: mouse + keyboard
Thread poster: xxxLia Fail
xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 23, 2009

I'm beginning to suffer what's likeley to develop into Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I've started to take a few different steps towards developing a more ergonomic workspace (a workshop, a software that reminds me to take breaks), and now am looking out to invest in a truly ergonomic mouse and keyboard.

I found a website with ergonomic computer accessories, and of the mouse options available, I think I like PenClic or Quill mouse. See http://www.rsi-syndrom.eu/en/solutions/products/

This site hasn't much on keyboards, but someone told me that a keyboard without a numeric section - which I never use anyway - make mousing much easier physically. I have seen extremely expensive keyboards - but don't see the point, as I'll eventually probably switch over almost entirely to voice recognition.

Any experience of /opinions on the mice or information on keyboards?


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Claudio Porcellana  Identity Verified
Italy
ergonomics Jun 23, 2009

the best way is to change often the input peripheral device

for example, you can use Dragon Naturally Speaking and use the voice to control your PC
PLUS use a trackball, a programmable gamepad or a graphics tablet instead of a mouse

during past years I tried a programmable gamepad (not easy to move precisely the pointer), and a graphics tablet (Wacom Bamboo: the pen falls easily on the ground, breaking quite expensive tips)

Currently, I'm using Dragon PLUS a Kensington trackball
a trackball is similar to a mouse, but it is stationary so you have not to grip it with all fingers
this leave your hand relaxed

furthermore, even if you prefer to keep the mouse, you can use more keyboard shortcuts that all applications have

Claudio


[Modificato alle 2009-06-23 00:32 GMT]


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Michael Barnett
Local time: 09:26
English
+ ...
Ergo Combo Jun 23, 2009

Hi Lia.

I work all day on the computer.

I use a combination of Dragon Ver 10, a Logitech MX Revolution mouse with custom programmed buttons, and a cool little program called "Macro Express" which enable me to write whole paragraphs, phrases or even programs with branches and inputs by pressing preassigned hot keys or character sequences.

http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/mice_pointers/mice/devices/130&cl=US,EN
http://www.macroexpress.com/

Michael

Addendum:

Hi again.
There is skepticism in the medical community about computer keyboards and mice actually causing CTS. This urban myth is said to have been promulgated in the 1990s by a journalist. The following is an abstract of a recent review article.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and the use of computer mouse and keyboard: a systematic review. [Review] [45 refs]
Thomsen JF. Gerr F. Atroshi I.
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 9:134, 2008.
[Journal Article. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't. Review]
UI: 18838001
Authors Full Name
Thomsen, Jane F. Gerr, Fred. Atroshi, Isam.

AB BACKGROUND: This review examines evidence for an association between computer work and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). METHODS: A systematic review of studies of computer work and CTS was performed. Supplementary, longitudinal studies of low force, repetitive work and CTS, and studies of possible pathophysiological mechanisms were evaluated. RESULTS: Eight epidemiological studies of the association between computer work and CTS were identified. All eight studies had one or more limitation including imprecise exposure and outcome assessment, low statistical power or potentially serious biases. In three of the studies an exposure-response association was observed but because of possible misclassification no firm conclusions could be drawn. Three of the studies found risks below 1. Also longitudinal studies of repetitive low-force non-computer work (n = 3) were reviewed but these studies did not add evidence to an association. Measurements of carpal tunnel pressure (CTP) under conditions typically observed among computer users showed pressure values below levels considered harmful. However, during actual mouse use one study showed an increase of CTP to potentially harmful levels. The long term effects of prolonged or repeatedly increased pressures at these levels are not known, however. CONCLUSION: There is insufficient epidemiological evidence that computer work causes CTS. [References: 45]

Of course, you could still have CTS from some other cause. Let me know in personal correspodence exactly which fingers are involved and I could tell you if your symptoms are suspicious for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Michael


[Edited at 2009-06-23 03:40 GMT]


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
DNS 10 Jun 23, 2009

Claudio Porcellana wrote:


for example, you can use Dragon Naturally Speaking and use the voice to control your PC
PLUS use a trackball, a programmable gamepad or a graphics tablet instead of a mouse

...

Currently, I'm using Dragon PLUS a Kensington trackball
a trackball is similar to a mouse, but it is stationary so you have not to grip it with all fingers
this leave your hand relaxed

Claudio


[Modificato alle 2009-06-23 00:32 GMT]


Lia,

DNS has upped my daily productivity and saved my wrists. I haven't tried a track ball, but after what Claudio says, one may be in my shopping cart later this week!

I hope more people pop in and share there ideas.

Patricia


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 23:26
Japanese to English
Wrist supporting mousepad Jun 23, 2009

I tried a trackball once and it drove me nuts. Trying to control it to select and drag text was next to impossible. I got rid of it after about a week.

Now I use the unfortunately-named "Glanz HS" mouse from Sanwa Supply in combination with their gel mousepad.



The mouse runs on a something like a small washable chopping board, while your wrist rests on a nice squidgy gel pad. The whole thing sticks to the table nicely too. Altogether a good setup.

I use my mouse a lot for clicking around in my CAT tool, and this mousepad has helped me lose the painful callous I was developing where my wrist rested on the table.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A truly split keyboard - Avoid use of mouse Jun 23, 2009

I type (at a relatively high speed) anything from 10 to 12 hours a day in total. Many years ago we bought Microsoft's Natural Keyboard and got used to type with a split keyboard. We now have an equivalent Logitech model, which we can't renew easily as Logitech have discontinued it in Spain (they sell it in other Spanish-speaking countries, like Mexico for instance). Logitech now offer some (quite ridiculous) keyboards with reoriented keys but no gap between the blocks of key, so very nice looking but pretty useless in terms of ergonomy.

So we are also looking for alternatives without having to resort to Martian-like keyboards. A keyboard with two truly separated blocks of keys is frequently enough to avoid discomfort. Of course you must be able to type without looking at the keyboard (thus avoiding neck discomfort).

As for the mouse, I am not that sure that using special mouse pads, trackballs, and Martian-like mice will help you. What you want to do is reduce the use of the mouse, trying to reach as many functions of your software as possible with keyboard shortcuts, either already present in your software or made with macro programmes like Autohotkey.

I also encourage you to get a proper chair with armrests, etc. We recently bought new chairs from a major German manufacturer and they insisted that we use armrests and learned to use the adjustments properly. I never thought armrests or adjusting the chair correctly would make such a big difference, but it does! I can give you the contact details over email if you wish.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:26
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I could never understand a mouse pad Jun 23, 2009

Rod Walters wrote:
The mouse runs on a something like a small washable chopping board, while your wrist rests on a nice squidgy gel pad.


This sounds very nice but it seems to be aimed specifically at people who think that the mouse should be moved with the wrist only. This is also the impression you get when trying to use a mouse pad -- the pad is so small that you are forced to use your wrist only. I got rid of my mouse pad ages ago, and I use a very large space for the mouse, so that I use a combination of my wrist and my arm to the move the mouse. I also set my mouse "speed" slower so that it requires bigger movements to move the mouse (and then obviously it requires a bigger mouse space on your desk). I could never understand those tiny mouse pads barely as big as an A4. If you do need to use a mouse pad (i.e. you can't use it directly on the desk), get yourself an A3 paper cutting board.

Another weird thing I find when visiting computer stores is that computer work stations often leave no space for the arms when using the keyboard. It is as if people think you should use a computer keyboard in the same way as you use a piano -- with your arms dangling in the air and your wrists not touching the table. Well, sorry, my arm rest on the table and so do my wrists. For this to work, the keyboard must be positioned quite a bit back on the desk -- so a small desk won't do. When I'm forced to work on a small desk, I often place the laptop at an angle on the desk so that at least one of my arms can rest on the desk.

PS I'm not suffering from CTS so I don't know if what I'm doing is "wrong".


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:26
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
keyboard Jun 23, 2009

I tried one of those ergonomic keyboards (I'm not sure which--it was Microsoft, and has a split in the keyboard so that the left hand keyboard slants up to the left, and the right hand keyboard slants u to the right--don't know if that has a name). I worked hard at it for a good two months, but found it absolutely impossible to type on (I would always find my fingers in the wrong place), and no help with pain. I don't have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but do have arthritis in my thumb joint, plus other aches and pains.

Susan


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
Wrist assist from Allsop Jun 23, 2009



http://www.allsop.com/mousepads-and-wrist-rests/wrist-assist-black-

I have been using it for a while (I think more than 6 months) and it feels better than the wrist gel support (which I used for a long time), because it forces the wrist to stay straight, since the wrist assist base is rigid. In my case, I am so used to a mouse that I find it hard to switch to other navigation devices (I even tried one of those ergonomic keyboards, which I did not like at all).

For instance, about the products mentioned in your referenced website, I have also considered some of them, but I honestly wonder if they will be as effective, especially because some of them are quite expensive and I don't know if they are really worth the money. If anything, I would be interested in the tablet (pen tray).

But if you already have problems, maybe it is best to first visit a doctor, just in case.

Take care,

Ivette

P.S.: it seems that as I was typing this message Susan Welsh just mentioned the ergonomic keyboard, too, so I may be repeating the same.


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Lars Jelking  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 16:26
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Arrange your workplace Jun 23, 2009

And take a look at this URL: http://www.hp.com/ergo/?jumpid=reg_R1002_USEN

[Edited at 2009-06-23 11:50 GMT]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Extremely useful!! Jun 23, 2009

Thanks everybody:-)

It's very useful to hear what DOESN'T really work and to hear about other possible solutions. I plan to try a number of approaches in the coming months so will come back with updates.

I'm trying to start off with cheaper and easier solutions, precisely because some things may not be worth changing/spending money on and some things may be frustrating to learn or adapt to. Rather than consult a doctor, I'll probably get a physiotherapist in to see me working. As for major changes to the workplace, apart from the fact that I'm living a temporary situation and don't know how long it will last, I've made enough mistakes (expensive but wrong desks and chairs, for example) in the past to be wary about rushing into anything.

I DO have DNS but unfortunately it's not working right now, so I'll try and solve that.

I've started using WorkRave (freeware, thanks to someone in proZ alerting me to it) and find that useful in reminding me to take breaks and in describing exercises to do.

A home remedy: I bandage my arm and bandaid my fingers, and I find that useful. The problem with the plaster around my fingers is that it gets wet and dirty and then leaves my fingers sticky, so I'm looking out for finger supports that I could slip on and off.

I've also found in the past that my hand/arm problems respond very well to gym exercises for working out and strengthening the upper part of the body, especially back and shoulders.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:26
Member
Italian to English
Trackball, gelpad and MacBreakZ Jun 23, 2009

I have been an avid user of trackballs for years - I'm currently using the Logitech Trackman Wheel and find it very good (it's wireless, but given that it sits stationary I don't find the lack of a cable either here nor there - the transmitter still has a cable...!)

I find the Belkin mousemat with gel wrist rest very good too.

I also purchased the software programme for Mac called MacBreakZ - it keeps an eye on your activity level and tells you when to take breaks. It also sugests exercises to do.

I also find the Mac keyboard much more comfortable than any PC keyboard I've ever used; pressing each key takes much less effort than on PC keyboards.

Good luck with finding a solution that meets your needs


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 15:26
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Come on Jun 23, 2009

Fiona Peterson wrote:

I also find the Mac keyboard much more comfortable than any PC keyboard I've ever used; pressing each key takes much less effort than on PC keyboards.


There are literally thousands of keyboard models out there so there is no sinlge category of "PC keyboards". Pretty much every single one works both with macs and PCs as well...
On top of that, if you are using the built-in keyboard of a laptop as your main keyboard, you're doing it all wrong anyway.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:26
English to Croatian
+ ...
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Jun 23, 2009

I've actually heard that the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most common among the longtime LapTop users who type on laptop keyboards over a long period of time. Myth or truth, I don't know.

I had an ergonomic keyboard, but one time I spilled orange juice over it and it stopped working. Couldn't be fixed either. It's extremely sensitive. While I had also spilled coffee or tea over the cheapest keyboards in the past, and it never caused any serious damage to them.



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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:26
Russian to English
+ ...
And don't forget to stretch Jun 23, 2009

I don't use any special equipment -- just a regular keyboard and mouse -- and I've never had a problem with CTS. I have been using a PC ever since they first became available. Okay, if you're a stickler for accuracy, my first PC didn't have a mouse, but you get the idea. I've been using PCs for a long, long time.

Whenever I feel pain in my wrists, I stop, grab my fingers, and pull back to stretch the tendons. I rotate my wrist a few times and pull my fingers back from different directions. Try it. That might be all you really need.


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