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How Effective are Ergonomic Keyboards?

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the don't-forget-your-chair dept.

Hardware 478

Jodrell writes: "This article on the BBC's website has a brief review of the current state of keyboard technology, but also questions the validity of claims that ergonomic keyboards can help prevent RSI, CTS and other "upper limb disorders." The article suggests that maybe it's working habits that cause these problems, and not the design of computer interfaces. What are Slashdot readers' experiences?"

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478 comments

CmdrTaco is a fresh hound! (-1)

beee (98582) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591438)

Blackwolf the Dragonslayer claims this first post for the Nation of Scotland! Hear ye, hear ye!

All about positioning (4, Interesting)

Courageous (228506) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591442)

For me, preventing pain in my hands and wrists is all about having the keyboard at exactly the right height. If it's at the wrong height, I'll eventually get pain. If it's a the right height, I won't. The only other issue is working the mouse in very cold rooms. For some reason that causes my hands to hurt.

C//

Re:All about positioning (2, Insightful)

kwelch007 (197081) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591467)

Isn't carpul tunel basically caused by repetitive motion. How is using a bent (I like to call them "broken" :) keyboard avoiding repetitive motion? It's it still just as repetitive, just in a slightly augmented position?

Re:All about positioning (2)

Courageous (228506) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591484)

I read somewhere that CTS vulnerability is probably inherited. Apparently some folks just won't get it, no matter how bad their ergonomics.

C//

Re:All about positioning (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591510)

I believe the idea is that by holding your hands at the angle that the "broken keyboard" is at ameliorates the conditions that cause CTS. But, I don't know for sure...

All I can say about them is after coding for 6 hours on a box with one of those "broken keyboards", going home and using a standard one felt... odd. But I was able to sit and code on the ergonomic one for longer then I normally could.... but the Jolt Cola may have had some effect on that...

Kierthos

Re:All about positioning (1)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591482)

"For me, preventing pain in my hands and wrists is all about having the keyboard at exactly the right height."

I have to agree with that. I have typed at least 4h/day (usually 8-10 h/day) for the last 10 years on my ancient 1984 IBM keyboard and have yet to develop a keyboard RSI problem. (The mouse is a differnet story.)

I think the key is to have extra desk space between the spacebar and the edge of the table. Four to five inches should do it. This allows the wrists to wrest on the table thus avoiding shoulder stress, which helps to keep your spine and neck in order.

You don't need a plush chusion or wrist-wrest there. Just a bit of table.

Re:All about positioning (0)

jojor (545317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591537)

" For me, preventing pain in my hands and wrists is all about having the keyboard at exactly the right height."

you are right, but its also about right the amount of pr0n, too much is bad...

Gelpads Rock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591648)

I use an old ibm at home and an ergo at work. Ergos are much better for hand positioning, as you dont have to pull your elbows in as much. If i use the ibm, i use a gelpad. Gelpads rock for keyboards and mice, having saved me from bone spurs, carpal tunnel, etc...!

Use a real keyboard! (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591454)

I use only old IBM 101 key "clicky" keyboards (both at work and at home). I type as much as 10-12 hours a day sometimes, and I don't have any RSI type problems. I do think using a good "regular" keyboard is important; using a "mushy" keyboard causes me to type harder (because I can't tell when I've pressed the key).

I hate using so-called ergonomic keyboards (especially the MS version), because I can't find the keys without looking around to see which ones are on which side of the "break" (because they aren't all the same).

I've got a couple of spare IBM keyboards on the off chance I manage to break one, but that's unlikely. The keyboard I'm typing on right now survived college dorm life and is still going strong (I've had it for 10 years now and I bought it used).

Re:Use a real keyboard! (1)

vistas (214241) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591503)

Though I prefer the MS ergo board, I do hold a soft spot in my heart for the old IBM Clicky. Definitely had a good feel.

I'm interested a bit in how many out there actually learned to touch type? and from that, how many touch typists like the ergos vs. those that hunt and peck?

Re:Use a real keyboard! (1)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591508)

"I've got a couple of spare IBM keyboards on the off chance I manage to break one, but that's unlikely. The keyboard I'm typing on right now survived college dorm life and is still going strong (I've had it for 10 years now and I bought it used)."

Yes, those clicky keyboards are the BEST. I love them to death. I will not give mine up. You know when you've pressed the key both by the sound and the tactile response and those things are so heavy and they won't be pushed around the table so easily. And the cables are detachable so you can switch then between machines easily.

And not having a 'windows key' makes me feel 31337 ;-) Teehee

Prayer! Prayer! Prayer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591521)

.

Prayer won't help a bit. Never does. Keep the forearms parallel to the floor, and learn to type. Avoid a lot of mouse work. And avoid trackballs if you need to precision in your mouse movements (the mass is much less in the ball so it's difficult to gauge small movements). Keyboard shortcuts are good, but nowadays few apps do those things.

.

Re:Use a real keyboard! (1, Funny)

jojor (545317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591581)

"I've had it for 10 years now and I bought it used"

soo, was that your keeyboard they used in that study about keyboard hygene compared to toilets...

Re:Use a real keyboard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591590)

For the IBM ClickClack fans out there, I highly recommend getting a TrackPoint II [ebay.com] . Same Model M design with a ThinkPad-like clitty so that you can perform simple mouse movements without moving from the home row.

Re:Use a real keyboard! (1)

PiGuy (531424) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591625)

I certainly agree! I've never typed on a ergo keyboard for more than five minutes at a time, but I've immediately run into the same "which-side-of-the-break?" problem, especially since I tend to use both hands to type on either side of the keyboard, rather than keeping each hand confined to its area. As to the neccessity of ergo keyboards, I find that in order the prevent various disorders/pain, just keep your wrists in line with your arms and your fingers and you'll be fine - the keyboard I'm on now has a little plastic wristwrest that does a good job of that. On other computers, I'll use a piece of wood. Angling your hands as if you were using an ergo keyboard helps, too. So does Dvorak :).
Cogito, ergo ne ergo!

Re:Use a real keyboard! (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591628)

I also love the old IBM keyboards. This message is being typed on one in fact. I think it adds at least 10 WPM to my speed to be on an IBM. I pick them up at the local thrift shop for like $2. Imagine someone giving away such a great keyboard.

The only problem I have is lost keycaps, since as you know, all of the keys have seperate caps that easily come off. Usually it isn't a big problem, but at the thrift shop they are usually banged around some and sometimes lose a cap.

When motherboards stop using PS/2 connectors, I will have to buy PS/2 to USB adapters, unless I can find someplace that sells real keyboards, and not those crappy rubber cup/membrane cheapo jobs that everyone sells these days.

ergo helps me (1)

Honorbound (521347) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591455)

Well, maybe they don't *prevent* RSI and CTS, but they may help to reduce the effects. I used to have major RSI problems and switched to an ergo keyboard and a trackball two years ago. Now, whenever I use a non-ergo keyboard (or a regular mouse, for that matter) for any length of time, my wrists start to stiffen up again. Psychosomatic? I don't think so.

I have an Egro KB at home, not one at work. (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591460)


I have an Egro KB here on my desk at home, I rarely feel any pain while typing (even doing long research papers and normal crap on my computer).

I spend 8 hours a day in front of a computer at work typing worthless shit all day. The KB there is not Egro and I routinely feel sharp pains and experience cramping outside of work. Granted, my posture probably isn't the best but it obviously shows that the difference is huge when using the E KB over the regular.

That is my experience, YMMV.

erg keyboards. (1)

vistas (214241) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591461)

Do they really help? I dunno. I never had that much of a problem with the regular style keyboard, but then I went out on a lark and bought the Microsoft Natural Elite keyboard just because it looked cool. The difference is really amazing and I hate having to use regular keyboards now, so much that I bought an extra keyboard to put on my work computer (if they don't already have an ergo).

not very effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591463)

I started developing pain in my wrists, and asked my boss to get me an ergonomic keyboard. He did, but the pain kept getting worse. I went to the doctor, and he told me to stop masturbating so much. That solved the problem!

Re:not very effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591479)

What an irresponsible doctor - he should have advised you to get an ergonomic penis.

Re:not very effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591497)

also, they keys no longer get so sticky!

worker habits (1)

EricBoyd (532608) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591468)

"worker habits" are not seperable from "the design of computer interfaces" - your environment creates your habits just as much as the reverse. Change your chair and your keyboard, and your habits will change as well. This article is just bunk.

Websurfing done right! StumbleUpon [stumbleupon.com]

They work for me! (1)

Sedennial (182739) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591470)

Been programming, gaming, and hacking out code for over 20 years now (since I was 12) and about 5 years ago I started to develop carpal tunnel symptoms. I switched to an ergonomic (LogiTech) keyboard and began to notice an immediate reduction in my wrist pain.

Since I spend an average of 10 hours a day in front of a computer (more when Sid Meier release a new Civ game ;) it's made a pretty dramatic impact. Once I started actually doing exercises in conjunction with using an ergo keyboard, my CT symptoms decreased to almost nothing.

If I have to spend a day on a non-ergo keyboard, I notice pain again within a few hours.

Honestly... (0, Troll)

hkhanna (559514) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591473)

Quite honestly, I think it's a bunch of marketing claptrap. It's just to sell more products and create jobs. For example, the Ergonomics Department at my company does very, very little. They come in and look at your chair/desk and fill out an evaluation. And it has to be signed by you, your manager, your managers manager, and the god damn janitor. It's a waste of time and it just sells things like those "ergonomic" mice.

Anyway, the summarize, the whole concept of ergonomics was invented to sell products. Sorry if this post came off as ranty. Feel free to mod down as (-1, Troll).

Hargun

Re:Honestly... (1)

Sedennial (182739) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591527)

Gotta agree with you as far as 'Ergonomics Deptartments' though. And like any market, once a need is demonstrated, a dozen companies spring up out of the woodwork to convinence gullible managers that they must implement the new 'X' item.

That doesn't necessarily negate the value of ergonomics work aids, but there is a middle ground. Much of the ergonomic necessity is due to simple lack of excercise on the worker's part. When I've been actively studying martial arts over the years, I find that my bodies capacity to sit comfortably in a chair at work is much greater than when (like the last couple years) I'm not actively working out.

Physical excercise can help tremendously, but ergonomics keyboards, mice, etc, can be useful too.

Re:Honestly... (1)

eyegor (148503) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591616)

Sorry, I gotta disagree with you.

I used to scoff at all the silly looking mice and keyboards (some of them are so silly that I still do). There is a lot of value to getting an ergo evaluation.

For the last 15 years, I've spent about 14 hours/day on computers. Last year I began noticing pain in my elbow and shoulder. I contacted our ergo department and they made some very valuable suggestions that solved the problem. It took about 4 months, but the elbow is back to 100% and the shoulder is at 90% again (and still improving).

I've worked with several people who were nearly crippled by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the only way they've been able to continue functioning as UNIX admins is through surgery and the use of those silly keyboards and mice.

My natural keyboard (1)

Phil Karn (14620) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591474)

My Natural keyboard is the only Microsoft product that I can, in good conscience, recommend to others. I suffered from chronic tendonitis in my left arm before I got it for both home and work. Then my pain faded away over several months.

It recurred more recently because I had taken to often using my laptop on the couch instead of my desktop machine with the natural keyboard. So in my case at least, the natural keyboard definitely works.

Phil

Ergonomic Keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591478)

Ergonomic Keyboards are GAY.
They are for gay faggits with delicate hands.
They SUCK.

helped a bit (1)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591481)

I started having CTS symptoms about 4 years ago. I switched to an ergo keyboard (ms-natural clone) and that helped the problem a bit. At least it delayed further deterioration until about 4 months ago, when it got bad enough that I went to see a doctor.

So I can tell you an ergo keyboard won't solve the problem by itself, altough it does help. You need an integral approach to a comfortable workspace. When I started getting worse a few months ago, I changed my table for one in which the keyboard is a bit lower and that's been helping me a good deal.

The keyboards work (1)

DiscoOnTheSide (544139) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591485)

As a Comp Sci major, and a drummer in a band, my wrists were killing me.

So I got one of them Microsoft Natural Elite Pro keyboards (built in USB hub!) and a MS Trackball optical (still the most comfortable trackball I've ever used) Within 2 weeks to get used to the new setup, I was pain free, and have been for the past 2 years or so.

While MS makes crappy software, I can honestly admit they make nice input devices and the new wireless Intellimouse Explorer is making me consider going back to a mouse....

Just my two cents....

Re:The keyboards work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591664)

"As a Comp Sci major, and a drummer in a band, my wrists were killing me. "

What !? You did not even play tennis ?

Depends on the person. (2)

danamania (540950) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591486)

It's such a variable thing, that there can be no blanket statement such as "ergonomic keyboards ARE better", or the converse. Personally, I've been typing since I was 9 in 1980 - perhaps before, and I've spend a LOT of that in constant writing. Having discovered Deluxe Paint and Photoshop later, I've also been mousing intensely over that time - and in 20 years there've been no problems I've noticed. I have a nerve injury that causes numbness on the outer two fingers of my left hand which means I type quite offset - yet there are no effects showing up in how I feel using my wrist/elbow/arm

A friend of mine however, can't type pain-free without a microsoft ergo keyboard. That works for him and is another choice that I'm thankful he has.

The most annoying thing when typing so far has been having something in the road of my elbows. That gets to me!

a grrl & her server [danamania.com]

Guess what (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591489)

I use a microsoft keyboard

(-1, troll)

It wasn't the keyboard that helped.... (1)

Pyrosz (469177) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591491)

...but it was the switch from a mouse to a trackball (finger, not thumb model) that helped my arm/hand pain. Although, I do prefer an ergonomic keyboard as I find it easier to type on.

Re:It wasn't the keyboard that helped.... (2)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591585)

I had a similar experience: the mouse was killing me. The pain was all in the mouse hand. For me, the solution was switching from a mouse-based editor to Emacs. No more pain! Since I was learning Emacs for the first time, I decided to develop the habit of using the keys that would keep me from having to reach around: Alt as Meta instead of Esc, and ctrl-P etc. instead of the arrow keys. My sister uses Esc as Meta, and it's causing her pain in her left hand.

Of course, the thing that everyone agrees on is that you have to take breaks, and limit your total time at the keyboard.

Re:It wasn't the keyboard that helped.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591617)

likewise using vi. map esc to caps lock, though, otherwise you will go mad.

I suffered from RSI... (5, Informative)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591495)

Not serverely though, but enough to change my habits. The big problem I was having was that I'd constantly hold my arms up in order to use the computer. I wasn't resting either of my elbos, and this eventually caused severe strain to my neck, shoulders, and even wrists. The first thing I did was I made a habit of having my left arm better rested on the desk or on the arm of my chair. The next thing I did was I got a little tv-dinner table and have my mouse resting on it instead, allowing me to rest my right arm on the chair. My problems went away shortly after making those changes, and I'd recommend them to anybody else.

For all you cubicle dwellers like me out there, another tip is to move your computer to the corner of the l-shaped desk, if you have that opportunity. By using the corner, you can rest both your elbos on the desk.

Re:I suffered from RSI... (5, Informative)

Uggy (99326) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591662)

I agree with you wholeheartedly. (wish I had mod points). I hate the stupid desks that most office furniture places sell as ergonomic computer desks... little stupid pull-out try for a keyaboard at your waist, monitor placed on a platform above eye level... arrrggghh, whenever I have to type for more than a few minutes at a client's desk, I find that I have extraordinary amounts of pity for them.

Get yourself a big flat, L-shaped desk (position yourself in the corner as NanoGator says), push your keyboard out to arms length, recline your chair, lean back , and pull yourself up to your stomach. Make sure your elbows stay on the table, your wrists are straight and you'll have no problems.

Since most of my job involves command line stuff, I mostly interact with the computer via keyboard. I touch type and have never had a problem with repetative stress injuries.

I have both a MS Natural Keyboard and a regular IBM clicky type and I like them both. I think I can type a little bit faster on the natural keyboard, though.

Injuries (1)

jedie (546466) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591500)

I've been to a specialist for pain I had in my arms, she asked me about my habbits and told me I had a "mouse arm" and RSI.
She told me to do exercises with regular intervals.
I didn't, and now the pain is gone.

There is yet another question that rises: "What is happening these days? Are peripherals adapting to the human body or vice-versa?"
I read this article that said the youth was evolving towars using the thumb as an index finger (to point), because they use their thumbs more often than they use their index fingers (playing with gamepads and writing SMS messages on their cellphones).
though I can't imagine a toddler picking his nose with his thumbs ;)

here [bbc.co.uk] is a link an article about the thumb issue

adaptation (1)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591567)

"What is happening these days? Are peripherals adapting to the human body or vice-versa?"

Our behaviour is adapting to the peripherals.

I got very bad pain in my right hand pointer finger from using the mouse so much. Now I shifted my hand over by one finger and use my middle finger for the left button, ring finger (between the middle and the pinky) for the right button and shift my middle finger over by one button temporarily if I have I have to press the middle roller button.

That's what you get for getting addicted to strategy games.

My MS Natural has saved my wrists. (1)

SpamJunkie (557825) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591501)

I have no doubt that my MS Natural keyboards have saved my wrists. I can no longer use a non-ergonomic keyboard without quickly getting sore wrists. After about 15 minutes of average programming I'll start to feel soreness in my wrists. If I continue my fingers begin to feel weak. With an ergo keyboard I can go all day without feeling any discomfort, however I still do take regular breaks and stretch.

For this reason I own three MS keyboards, two Elites and one Pro. I use my own keyboard at work and have a spare in case I ever need to do serious typing somewhere else. There is no question the Natural Pro is superior - the keys have better response, they feel layed out better and the arrow keys are in the proper T formation.

I'm a mac user and am continually saddened that Apple no longer offers ergonomic keyboards. I can't imagine any serious programmer using Apple's supplied keyboards, no matter how nice they look.

MS Natural Keyboard (1)

BlkPanther (515751) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591502)

All I know is that I love MS Natural Keyboard, it makes typing alot easier for me, I don't know if it is any more healty. When I go to a plain keyboard, I have trouble typing accurately, and I have to position my arms in a slighly unnatural position. I also have a ergo-MS Wireless Explorer Optical mouse, and now I hate all other mice, the MS Wireless Optical is by far the best feeling mouse ever (although a bit inaccurate, as I still play Unreal with a corded mouse)!

I think that if you are in a position where you use your keyboard 8 hours a day, the ergo-keyboards help, maybe not health wise, but certainly comfort wise.

Exactly (5, Interesting)

empesey (207806) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591505)

I don't use ergonomic keyboards, and not only have I used regular keyboards forever, I've been a piano player since I was 5 years old. How come we don't hear about CTS amoungst piano players, organist and the like. What about guitarists? Eddie Van Halen may have cancer, but he's never complained about CTS. While I'm sure that such a condition exists, I'm sure the medical community over-diagnoses, because of the money involved.

In that respect, I don't think it's any different than all the Prozac prescriptions that are given every year. What percentage is completely unnecessary?

Re:Exactly (1)

Denny (2963) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591534)

> What about guitarists?

The guitarist from Dire Straits was recently diagnosed with RSI.

I found that quite amusing, cruel I know, but they were a bit repetitive - maybe if they'd used more than one riff per track he'd still be okay! ;)

Regards,
Denny

Re:Exactly (2)

MartinB (51897) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591571)

The guitarist from Dire Straits was recently diagnosed with RSI.

Status Quo [bbc.co.uk] , not Dire Straights. Rick Parfitt has been grinding out those 3 chords for upwards of 35 years...

Re:Exactly (1)

vistas (214241) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591552)

The difference may be that typists keep their arms and wrists in the same position. Pianists and keyboard players move their arms across the keyboard enough to keep things from becoming too repetitive.

Re:Exactly (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591577)

I'd also like to point out that a lot of computer users use their keyboards for 8hrs+. Im not sure how that compares to a practicing pianist, but I somewhat doubt that they dont use the pianno for as long (no offence intended). Also, its a matter of 8hrs+ per day, 5 days+ per week etc

Re:Exactly (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591610)

I didn't believe it either until it happened to me.

Like I said in a previous post, I routinely experience tingling, pain, cramping, and shoulder pains.

This only started after I began 8+ hour days in front of a computer that didn't have very good Egronomic setup.

Just b/c it doesn't happen to you does NOT mean it doesn't happen to others.

Re:Exactly (3, Informative)

MartinB (51897) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591635)

I can't speak for guitarists, but as someone who's also played keyboard instruments for over 20 years I can say that a good piano technique avoids CTS and RSI.

The closest I've really heard of was Robert Schumann [rz-berlin.mpg.de] who it was said rigged up a pulley and weights system to strengthen his 4th finger so he could trill faster, and knackered his tendons in the process. (the more likely reason was taking arsenic to cure syphillis)

Here's a link that rebuts your arguement (2, Interesting)

eyegor (148503) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591651)

Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer (of ELP) have both had problems with music related RSI.
Check this link out: Music RSI [music-injury.com]

I find mine helps (1)

Denny (2963) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591506)

I have an ergonomic keyboard and it has definitely reduced the feeling of 'tension' in my hands after a long bout of typing. I find it more helpful when typing 'essay' type material rather than coding, but it's not a hindrance at all for coding - just not as beneficial, probably because you don't pound the keyboard so non-stop when coding.

One thing someone else said, and I'd agree with, is that 'soft touch' keyboards are a Bad Thing (tm). I hate them. My ergonomic is the only one I've ever found that isn't soft touch, and that's why I bought two of them on the spot and put the spare in a cupboard...

Incidentally, I also have one of those weird 'kneeling position' chairs, a friend got me it for Xmas three years ago. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it has helped my back immeasurably - I don't get backaches when using my computer any more, even on all night hacking runs, and I definitely used to.

Regards,
Denny

Thinkpad keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591507)

I find it much more comfortable to type on a laptop keyboard (Thinkpad in this case, not sure how the others compare). I think this happens because this keyboard is smaller than the run-of-the mill PC keybaords, so my fingers travel less while doing similar kinds of work (programming). The keys themselves are also much shallower, requiring less finger movement to depress.

if you don't know how to type with 10 fingers (1)

mccare (569147) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591509)

... an ergo keyboard won't help your wrists either. Almost 50% of the people I know don't really know how to type. (2-4 finger system).

Perhaps if you get used to typing since you were 16 your "upper limbs" are getting used to the strain on them. Or do the tennis stars get a "tennis arm"?

Ergo Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591511)

For me it makes a very big dif. A straight keyboard forces my wrists to make a sharp angle, where as the ergo keyboard obviously allows your wrists to stay in a perfect line with my forearms. I've been programming for forteen years and it definately makes a difference when you've been writing code as long as I have. A lot of newbies probably work hard too, but have 'revolving hands' when it comes to hiting keys with the right fingers. So I can see how an ergo keyboard might inhibit a new user. But in the long run it does make a dif. I esspecially notice it when i work out or do bench presses with a str8 bar... After being forced to use a str8 keyboard, that little twist in my wrist all day will equal big pain when it comes to lifting something heavy - I don't get that with an ergo keyboard. But then again, I'm pretty serious about the gym and very few hardcore programmers I know actually workout... or know what a bench press is....

I don't need a "study" to tell me they work. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591515)

I am a professional software developer (spending 15+ hours at the keyboard a day) and found my wrists began hurting a few years ago. After I start typing on a "flat" keyboard, even for just a few minutes the pain appears.

I got one of the ORIGINAL microsoft ergonomic keyboards and the pain stopped completely. I've been using them ever after. I'm unhappy that microsoft changed the design to make their ergos smaller, because now they suck. The F-keys are half-height, the arrows are in a diamond instead of the inverted 'T', and the insert/delete/home/end/pgup/pgdn keys are arranged vertically instead of horizontally. I truly hate their new keyboard, and was very sad when my original one broke because I can't replace it.

(I'm no fan of MS software, in fact I truly hate it, but I have to admit I like the peripheral hardware that they put their name on.) But now, I think I'm going to be looking for a new brand for ergonomics, since their new ones are simply terrible. (Also, I do not want all the buttons for mail, internet, CD playing, etc on the keyboard. What a stupid idea!)

Re:I don't need a "study" to tell me they work. (-1)

positive (12069) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591547)

Your original Natural Keyboard can replaced easily. Try the Natural Keyboard Pro [microsoft.com] which has been out for at least a year now. It's basically identical to the original NKB (with a few tweaks) with the additional media buttons. I like it even more than my original MS Natural Keyboard.

Keyboard vs. Work Habits (3, Interesting)

ari{Dal} (68669) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591519)

for me, it's a bit of both.
i've been a programmer/graphics designer for about a decade now, and i have cts in both wrists (worse in the right from mouse work...), and I can tell you why right now: I don't know how to type properly.
Oh sure, i can bang away at 100 wpm, with very few typos, but my wrists are pressed flat against the table, which is just bad bad bad. Switching to an ergo keyboard helped, but not much.
The only thing that's helping me now is that i wear wrist supports on both arms that force my hands into the proper position. I've been wearing them for over a year now, and i rarely feel pain anymore. If i take them off for a few hours, then it starts to kick back in again. Something tells me i'll have to continue wearing them for a long time, at least until i train myself to type with proper wrist positioning.

Re:Keyboard vs. Work Habits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591572)

people that wear those braces look like complete fags. just remember to take them off when you go to lunch.

Really funky keyboards (1)

chennes (263526) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591524)

About a year ago I was starting to experience problems with my wrists after long days of coding. Looking for a quick-and-easy solution (no brace that I have to wear, no surgery, no changing my typing habits, etc.) I bought one of those keyboards that split into three pieces - both halves of the keyboard and then the keypad. That was I could type without doing the wrist-twisting thing. While I'd love to say I was duped (the keyboard was $150), I have had *no* problems with my wrists since then. Maybe just luck, but I kind of doubt it.

Chris

Here's my account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591525)

I was a PCB designer (until the great telecomm crash of 2001, but that's another story)

This involves holding the mouse in more or less the same position and clicking a lot. Pantheon uses 'strokes' to enter commands; you hold down the middle mouse button and draw a shape that represents a command. I ended up with terrific pain in my right forearm, pain that sometimes even went into the chest area. It was something like tennis elbow, I once even dropped a tin can because my hand just couldn't grasp anything when my wrist was at a certain angle!

At home, the pain continued. I eventually got an ergonomic keyboard, this felt better immediately while typing, but didn't solve the mouse problem. Eventually, I went to a chiropractor who detected a badly aligned spine. (I know, that's about all they CAN detect) These treatments helped with my upper body pains. I was always seated in a bad position because of my spine problem. This led to stress in the forearm when mousing.

With a combination of better posture and regular mousing pauses where I do some arm stretching exercises, I feel a lot better.

Of course, I don't work anymore either, so this helps too.

Blame typing teachers (5, Interesting)

Black Art (3335) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591526)

The reason that people get repetitive stress injuries is because the way they are taught to type. In typing class, you are taught to hold your hands in aa certain way, to never cross your hands and to keep them bent at an unnatural angle. Holding your hands in the same position as what typing teachers drill into their students increases the chance that you will do damage.

I would like to see a study of people who type using the "touch typing method" v.s. people who use the "hunt and peck" method. I think you will find that people who vary how they type have a much lower chance of having repetative stress problems than people who follow the rote dictates of how "you are supposed to type".

Ouch! (1)

NickRob (575331) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591529)

I've been using computers since I was 4, and mostly using the standard or extended keyboards. Then about a month and half ago.. BOOM. Tendonitis in both arms flares up bad. Right before finals and everything... not good. I get worried, try to slack off as much as I can... but still it hurts bad. I try slacking off, I buy wrist splints... They alieviate the pain a bit... but then THEY start hurting me. So it hurts to type even a little bit... I even resort to typing with me nose (the WPM rate is horrible). So I go in and see the Doctor and they give me Advil...9 a day for 10 days... so I do that, wear the splints at night.. and it goes away for a while. But now it comes back, with PS2 and tons of typing, it's just bound to happen. So, now, I just take Advil whenever things start hurting... it works pretty well.

Never gotten RSI in 16 years (1)

jcl5m (519470) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591532)

I work in acedemia (HCI at that) and the thought of RSI strike fear into professors and researchers because it disables them from being capable of doing anything for months at a time in a "publish or perish" type of environment. And the instant a fellow research says they've gotten RSI, everyone panics, blames UI technology, and becomes an evangelist for more sophisticated interaction techniques. But all I can say is that I've used crappy keyboards and crappy mice for hours everyday for more than 16 years and I've never had a problem. To me RSI feel much more like a product of bad work habits and popular hysteria than a real problem that can be engineered/designed out. Have humans really become this pethetically weak that we can't handle a simple task of sitting at a desk and using a regular keyboard and mouse? Technology really has made humans wimpy creatures.

Kinesis Dvorak an absolute win. (1)

Average (648) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591535)

When it comes down to a long-term typing run, either prose or code, I'm an addict to my Kinesis Ergo. Finally broke down and bought one for myself at work (couldn't get the office to buy one for me after years of polite requests).

When I got my first Kinesis, I also went Dvorak on it. I had used Dvorak back in the Apple II days, so I was somewhat familiar.

The interesting thing is how my mind has the two separated. If I sit down at a Kinesis, my fingers flow out Dvorak... QWERTY is impossible. I go to a flat, and Dvorak is nearly impossible. This is the perfect combination for a sysadmin/techie who needs to sit at everyone's machine every so often. Plus, no one can use my workstation.

It's not the speed. I type the same speed on either. It's the comfort. You simply don't move the fingers as much on a Dvorak layout. Also, I'm much more 'proper' about which fingers do what on the Kinesis Dvorak. It's not arbitrary, like I am on the flat QWERTY I learned at 4 years old.

Relative Safety (3, Insightful)

redgekko (320391) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591540)

They way I see it, everything will kill, cripple, or make you stupid eventually. I can only hope that my Dell ergo keyboard is relatively safer since it's a hundred times more comfortable to use, and hasn't caused me any severe pain in about five years of constant coding, whereas a flat keyboard will put me in agony in just a few hours.

The bottom line is that as long as we have to twiddle our fingers for data entry, RSIs continue will be a problem. It's just a question of improving posture to minimize injury.

MS Kurvy Keyboard (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591541)

I have a MS Kurvy Keyboard (AKA "natural") and I can say that it does make a difference. After years of "normal" keyboard use, my wrists were getting quite sore. I finally bought a MS keyboard. I can type all day with it. If I use a "normal" keyboard, my hands are aching after 15 minutes. I would be lost without it.

the problem isn't the keyboard ... (1, Flamebait)

Frag-A-Muffin (5490) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591545)

it's the people using them. The problem is the people with these problems do NOTHING BUT tapping away on the keyboard. You GOTTA do other things. Get outside and play frisbee or something. ANYTHING!

The Purpose of ergonomic keyboards is flawed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591546)

How many times have people told you to sit up strate, hold your wrists up when typing, or put the toilette seat down?

I myself owned an "ergonomic" chair about 3 years ago and it didn't help or do anything helpful to my spine and posture worth a shit. You know what the chair was... no wheels (move darnit), must actually sit on your buttocks and knees (ouch), with your calves and feet directly positioned under your buttocks (oomph). After 1 hour of sitting, your knees would just start aching and pulsating like crazy as if you KNEW when to get up and stretch (never again).

Ergonomic keyboards are the opposite. The ergonomic keyboards simply allow you to type "comfortably", that is, they make the keyboard bigger by spacing the left-hand keystrokes 2 feet from the keys you retain as right-hand keystrokes. The result is you look like a bird with your arms at length, twiddling away at 50 words per minute... And such, we all still have pain.

My name is D.W. DogMeyer, attorney at law, and I ask all you people to join me in a class action lawsuite against Intel, AMD, HP, Compaq, Dell, Microsoft, Corel, IBM, Inprise, Quicken, Logitech, Sony, Sega, Nintendo, Interact, SGI, Gravis, and GQ for the assessment of damages caused by their products.

We'll be filthy rich and I won't hafta chase anymore ambulances and screw anyone's granny for a whole year. Thankyou.

Don't forget mice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591550)

Mice are important too for an ergonomic enviroment. I have two of those cool logitech mice with optical sensors. I would recomended them to any one! They fit just right in your hand, 3 buttons and scroll wheel and very easy to use.

Gave mine away (1)

pyrote (151588) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591551)

I used a MS keyboard for years, nice, I guess, but all it did was screw me up when I went to other keyboards.
now all I use is a Virtually Indestructible Keyboard [grandtec.com] I got at radioshack. It works and I don't have to worry about toting it to lan parties or even spiling a soda on it.
Convenience over Ergo for me

-- This sig intentionally left blank --

A few are good, most aren't.... (5, Informative)

kabir (35200) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591553)

I had a bout with tendonitis/carpel tunnel (depending on which doctor I asked) a number of years ago and immediately switched from a normal keyboard to an ergonomic one, eventually finding one from Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] (Specifically the Classic [kinesis-ergo.com] ) that actually helped. I have found this keyboard to be a great help, and after a bit of research it's actually pretty clear why.

The whole deal with ergonomic keyboards is that to be effective they need to eliminate wrist possitions which cause your tendons to drag along the edges of your wrist, which causes inflamation. The key to this seems to be maintaining a natural "relaxed" wrist position which allows the tendons to do their work right in the middle of the wrist.

Of course people vary quite a bit, so it seems that what works for some doesn't work for everyone. I've found that I'm particularly sensitive to this kind of injury (don't ask me why, I just am...) so the Kinesis is the only thing that works for me. I've met plenty of folks who don't need something this extreme because the more "normal" ergo keyboards change their possition enough that they stop having problems - generally the Kinesis will also work for them, but is over kill. Those more "normal" ergo keyboards don't do crap for me.

I've also met plenty of people who just don't seem to have a problem with this stuff. I don't know what it is, but some people seem susceptible and others can spend fifty years typing on a standard keyboard and never have a problem. Go figure.

I'm tempted to say that the "normal" ergo keyboards are a scam, because they don't work for me, but they seem to help enough borderline folks that I just keep my mouth shut instead. If you're having real wrist issues though don't write off all ergo keyboards until you check out the Kinesis ones. They provide a much more robust solution to bad positioning than any of the others, many of which focus on how "turned in" your hands are while ignoring the degree of flex in your wrists.

And of course, the position of the rest of your body matters too.

I'm unwilling to say that ergo keyboards are a waste or a scam for the simple reason that without them I couldn't code anymore. I did that for a while before I found the Kinesis, and it was bad. My life as a waiter is not a pretty thing ;)

Re:A few are good, most aren't.... (2)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591580)

MOD PARENT [slashdot.org] UP!

This guy is actually trying to answer the question! Such a rarity on slashdot...

Depends on the person.. (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591557)

Look, we're all built a little differently, we've all had different physical histories, and our work habits are different. We're all different. So it make sense that ONE ergonomic solution for ALL people won't work.

Some people are going to strongly prefer the MS Natural keyboards, some people need the 1993 Sun keyboard.

If you experience pain with your current setup, you'll probably need to try a few different keyboards before you find one that works for you.

Personally, I strongly prefer to use the MS Nautral keyboards. Except for the small arrow keypad, I find that it causes the least amount of pain or discomfort of any keyboard that I've used. I work 8+ hours a day on a keyboard.

I use a Sun Ultra5 at work, with a MS Natural keyboard plugged into a converter. I can't get PS/2 mice to work correctly (THe middle button doesn't cut-n-paste), so I use a 3-button boxy Sun mouse (Plugged into a second Sun keyboard which hides under my desk).

My biggest gripe isn't the keyboard, it's the mouse. Sun has a small selection of mice, and their standard box mouse just doesn't work. Most PS/2 mice do not work with a converter (The middle button doesn't cut and paste).

Needed: Keyboard with built in Slashdot Spellcheck (2)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591562)

Now that would be a million-seller, easy.

(Of course, you'd still need the armed guard standing behind Jon Katz and forcing him to use his, but progress comes in small steps...)

Keyboards Shmeboards... (1, Flamebait)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591566)

It's not the keyboard stupid!

It's the desk and the chair. The keyboard isn't going to make a difference if it's shoulder high.

Get the $5.00 keyboard and put it on your lap.

ergo vs. non-ergo (1)

Mandelbrot-5 (471417) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591582)

For a number of years I had your run of the mill, cheep keyboard. Once I started programming, my wrists started to hurt. A friend of mine gave me a PC concepts ergo keyboard and low and behold, my wrists no longer hurt. Now ever time I go back and work on an old keyboard, my hands start to hurt after only a few minutes using it.

I feel that my extensive use of a computer, and my 5 years working as a physical rehabilitation aid in a hospital give me a good perspective on this.

I spend 12 -16 hours a day on the computer, so I'm sure that my setup is a testament that ergo helps. But it's not just the keyboard. You need to have a good chair; the desk the correct height, your screen can't be too close or too faraway, etc. There are many factors in ergo, but to me the keyboard has been the defining part of the setup.

Dvorak (1)

srobert (4099) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591584)

Try remapping the keyboard to dvorak. I did so in an effort to increase my speed. While my speed is about the same, my hands are no longer as sore as they use to be after extended periods of typing.

not about pain (1)

Fakeplasticme (469709) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591588)

I typed for years on a 101 key "regular" keyboard, since I was a kid, and never have I had any pain or discomfort. Then my dad bought a MS Natural and I HATED it. I kept having to look down to check what keys were on which side of the break (as someone mentioned already) and it was a hassle. But once I learned the layout again I loved it, and in the 3 years since I've bought two for myself. These days I can't stand using traditional keyboards. They feel too crowded and I hate bending my wrists in to cram into such a small area. For me it's not about pain, just freedom of movement and general comfort I guess.

What the fuck is wrong with you idiots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591589)

You don't like using Microsofts Operating System, yet you LOVE THEIR KEYBOARDS!

I just don't undertand you lot.

It's the way we work, not the tools. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591591)

I've been using computers nearly every day of my life since the mid 80s and I've come to realize that the most important tool you can use to combat RSI/CTS/etc. is common sense. Yes, it really can be that simple.

If it hurts, stop doing it.

If you find that your wrists hurt after an hour of typing in a certain position, STOP! Examine your work space and figure out a way to change the way you're sitting. If the keyboard is up high, lower it. If it's low, raise it. If it's sitting at a funny angle, straighten it out.

I can't count the number of times I've heard someone complain about how their arm/wrist/neck/etc. hurts at the end of the day and I go look at their workspace to find that they've got their mouse on a shoulder-high stack of books, keyboard perched half on, half off a stack of papers, and/or a monitor at a 40-70 degree angle to their line of sight. Does it occur to them to fix any of this? Nope.

When I was a kid, I'd occasionally type with the keyboard in my lap. One day I noticed that my wrists hurt and my forearms were aching after a couple hours of that. So I stopped doing it. One day I had my mouse perched on a stack of Macs by my desk, about a foot higher than normal. At the end of the day, my shoulder hurt from constantly being lifted from keyboad to mouse all day long. So I made sure I never did that again. At home, I had two monitors and noticed that my neck would hurt if I worked on the one on the left (about 45 degrees off axis) for a long time. So I got a KVM switch and only use one monitor now.

I don't use a wrist pad or ergonomic keyboard or anything of the kind. That doesn't mean I think they're not useful. If I needed one to help with my typing posture, you bet I'd have one. And a couple of spares in the closet. Same with gloves and split keyboards and funky chairs.

I don't doubt that there are very real cases of RSI/CTS/etc. but I have no sympathy for people who spend 8 hours a day doing something that causes pain and don't do anything to try and fix the problem.

Alternative Keyboard Gallery (ergonomic) (1)

timgriffin (175745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591593)

The Alternative Keyboard Gallery [griffins.ca] compares a bunch of commercial and prototype ergonomic keyboards (lots of images -- great resource if your looking for an ergo keyboard).

My 1st hand experience - doctors, not keyboards (5, Informative)

DaveWood (101146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591594)

I'm a programmer and an avid FPS gamer. About three years ago I started to feel a tingling sensation on the backs of my hands - as if they were "falling asleep." First this would happen after the odd 12-16 hour session of straight coding, but gradually unusual aches, pains and numbness became more and more common, until it was happening every day.

I knew exactly what was happening to me, but at the time I was trying to start a business and didn't have health insurance. Becoming panicked, I goaded my partners into starting the search for insurnace we could afford - amid the spiraling costs and free-fall benefits currently available, this took 5 months. Toward the end, I was unable to work.

I read every single piece of literature on the internet about RSI, and then I moved on to the library and the medical books. This condition has happened in my family, and I immediately knew how much trouble I was in. Everything said the same thing: "see a specialist now - don't wait!" But I couldn't! And I inevitably ended up looking at the major "RSI keyboards" - i.e. Twiddler and Datahand. I "evaluated" the Datahand [datahand.com] (this is a $1,000+ investment, but still less than the consultation fee of a good specialist) for several months.

The principle seemed sound to me - the literature they had appeared convincing and the salesman I spoke to claimed to be an RSI sufferer himself who had been helped "dramatically" by the keyboard. It got a lot of comments sitting on my desk - the thing looks quite sci-fi. However, the learning curve was steep (at least for me) - it took weeks of constant effort in order to get to a third of my current 90wpm. Convinced I might be saving my wrists, I let this massive and unbearable disruption to my work continue unabated, but I found that I still felt pain, and at the end of the day, I still felt numb. In hopeful moments, I thought perhaps it would pass as I gained proficiency with the keyboard.

Eventually I more or less stopped working altogether, using interns and co-workers to type for me. My partners started to get nervous - far from sticking with their friend, I knew they were starting to wonder how they could get rid of this medical disaster in their midst. I started to contemplate what the rest of my life would be like without the ability to type or perform other similarly intricate motions with my hands.

Finally, the insurance came through, and I canvased New York, looking for the best specialst I could find. In an oak-paneled office a few blocks from Lincoln Center, I mingled with young musical prodigies and their handlers, and I was given two cortisone injections, an exercise regimen, and a piece of advice:

"Those keyboards aren't worth the plastic they're molded out of."

I went back on the regular keyboard, and within weeks, I was 100% back to normal.

So, in summary:

  • THE "ERGONOMIC," "RSI" KEYBOARDS ARE WORTHLESS
  • IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, SEE THE BEST SPECIALIST YOU CAN FIND. IMMEDIATELY.

Although I just want to add (2)

DaveWood (101146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591624)

The standard QWERTY keyboards in use today are still a mess, and could still be improved. And improving them might even help prevent RSI. But my understanding of it, gleaned from the Doctors I've worked with is that the keyboard itself is a relatively small part of the puzzle, with work habits (regular breaks!), posture, chair and desk, and other aspects of your fitness (most of the exercises I did were back-related) making up the majority.

At the very least, I wouldn't mind seeing Dvorak keyboards come into style.

Personal Experience (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591598)

I personally found, switching from a standard to an ergo keyboard, that I typed a lot faster, and I didnt have that warming wrists that I got with the standard keyboard. Note that when buying the ergo keyboard I also bought a new chair and desk - thats probably more of the issue. Buying a keyboard wont really help if you have bad posture and/or computer setup.

10 years and still going strong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591602)

I have been using normal keyboards in all flavours ( soft/mushy, IBM click, laptop etc ) and I don't have a CTS. The only thing computer-wise giving me pain is playing quake/tribes2/any_other_fps, where I strain the upper body to keep the reflexes good. Unfortunately, being an 'old man' my shoulders kill me long before my wrists do :-)

Mice vs. Trackballs (2)

Daniel Wood (531906) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591605)

My mother cannot use a mouse for extended periods of time anymore. She has to use a trackball. Mabye ergo keyboards/trackballs don't prevent pains, but the sure do help to relieve the pain.

The Facts About Repetitive Strain Injuries (4, Informative)

webword (82711) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591607)

The Facts About Repetitive Strain Injuries [webword.com] -- An interview with Scott Wright, Webmaster and Primary Caretaker of the Typing Injury FAQ.

Kinesis Contour and other ergo keyboards (1)

pez (54) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591618)

The Kinesis changed my life, pure and simple. Before this keyboard I tried many alternatives, including the MS Natural keyboard, and none of them releived me of the constant pain in my hands. At one point in my career it got so bad that the pain at night prevented me from sleeping -- even if I spent a day or two away from the computer.

After trying the Kinesis, not only do I feel that my typing is faster (and ABSOLUTELY more comfortable), my pain is all but gone -- and this includes stretches of days with 20 hours of typing per day.

It's impossible for me to heap enough superlatives at this product. To say that it saved my career as a computer scientist is not overstating it. I can recommend it whole-heartedly, and urge anyone who has pain to at least give it a shot.

I'm in no way associated with Kineses (other than being a very satisfied customer) but I am so impressed with their keyboards that I actually offered to invest in the company (at the time they weren't soliciting outside investors).

Here is where I bought my keyboard (see the picture of it on the home page): DMB Ergonomics [dmb-ergonomics.com]

And here is some additional information that might be helpful:
Alternative Keyboards [tifaq.com]

Typing Injury FAQ [faqs.org]

Microsoft Natural Pro here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591627)

I am sitting in front of that damn machine a lot.
I type without watching the keyboard as fast as with.

A few years ago it all started: My wrists had some sting,
I had pain when lifting weighty stuff.

I could be on holiday for a month, not the single touch of a keyboard,
but the pain did not go away entirely

I bought a MS Natural Pro. It worked wonders. After using it three
days only, all the pain went away ! I know this sounds ridiculos, but I swear !

Though...about a year later, still using that keyboard,
I start having pain again. And I am somewhat confused by this.

Not talking of my eyes...They started getting worse 3 weeks ago.

DAMN! How will I earn money when I am blind and a cripple ?

Re:Microsoft Natural Pro here... (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591660)

Speaking as one hypochondriac to another, it often helps to go to a doctor, so they can tell you nothing is wrong with you. Keep in mind, this treatment only works AFTER you have accepted that your mind is making you sick. If you haven't gotten there yet, the doctor will only make you angry and your condition(s) worse.

Don't do the same thing all the time (1)

panurge (573432) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591630)

The big benefit for me came from going over to an optical mouse. I still haven't found a perfect one, but any of them is better than one of those things with balls in. If I have to do a lot of typing (rare in these days of graphical IDEs) I use a great big heavy mechanical switch keyboard with loads of tilt and full travel keys. I have a (perhaps ludicrous) idea that simply being able to whack the keys with little force control is actually less stressful than the more controlled action needed on short travel keyboards. That, and all that boring stuff about getting seat height right in relation to keyboard, monitor etc. Plus I alternate between a kneel seat and a heavy duty office chair.

Speaking of which, a careful review of the specs shows that some very expensive office chairs are in fact not suitable for prolonged use. They seem to be for the busy exec who never sits down.

They do something (1)

CyberLife (63954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591637)

It may be entirely psychological, but I feel much more relaxed when I use an ergo keyboard. I also seem to be able to type much faster.

Ergonomic keyboards are all I use. (2)

suso (153703) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591638)

I feel weird whenever I type on a regular keyboard. About 6 years ago when I was a computer science major, I found that I started having pains in my wrists after working at the computer for a long time. I decided to buy an ergonomic keyboard and found that the pains went away almost immediately, and it only took a few weeks to get used to the different key layout. Now I can even type faster than I did before. I just wish that they would standardize the layout of ergonomic keyboards because most of them are different from each other and put the 6, b and y keys on differing sides.

Ergo stuff == cash cow? (2)

pinkpineapple (173261) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591642)

I went to a class given by our university about ergonomics. The people there seem to encourage students to stay away from the kinesis and microsoft/logitech models of this world. The best keyboards they said where the split keyboard model made by gold touch (a respectable company who has been in business for long time but with a ad budget lower than MS and the others) and the now defunct Apple ADB model which was a direct reap off of the gold touch model.
Living on Apple reputation to design always cool stuff, it's a shame that they stopped making that keyboard.

The position of the forearm seems to dictate according to the instructor the problem related ot wristh pain. He also mentionned that the laptop keyboards are worse than desktop keyboard because they will let you palm rest at the same level than the keyboard. Not to mention the most of the time smaller form factor associated with laptop keyboards.

Since I went to that class, and because I love the laptop form factor (me japanese), I keep my hand elevated while typing which gives my gesture an elegant touch. Not that I had pain before but like in many other activities, prevention is better than being sorry.

PPA, the girl next door.

zero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3591643)

not effective.
I bought three of those fuckas and none of the three is Ergonomic. They stalled my job and I've lost monay.

A marketing plot.

Ergo setups (1)

Satan's Librarian (581495) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591653)

I screwed up my hands early on from typing incorrectly way too much.. like to the point that for a month or two I couldn't really use my left hand for opening bottles / driving. I now have a Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] Essential, and while it took a month or so to get to where I could go at any reasonable speed, it's helped and I can now go at about the same speed as on a regular keyboard. What's helped more though has been making sure to take breaks and use better posture - take the keyboard OUT of your lap while typing...
I also use funky arm rests [medcatalog.com] , which help considerably with mouse use and shoulder/back pain, and I got a fairly normal office chair, but spent some time finding one that actually fit my back right.
These days I do pretty well w/o pain, and that's 70+ work hours/week on the computer + any time I might spend doing my own stuff after work.

Works for Me (1)

tillemetry (223556) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591663)

If use an ergonomic M$ keyboard, my hands, particularly my wrists, don't hurt.

If don't use one, and after a few hours, my hands hurt quite a bit and I can't type any longer.

Reason I went with M$, is 'cause it is relatively cheap and easy to replace with a similar unit if something happens (like I spill coffee into it).

Actually it turns out they are really easy to fix if you happen to fill them with coffee, but I didn't know that at the time (couple of layers of vinyl inside, cleans up easily).

Tried switching back recently when they upgraded my computer at work. Nice new dell keyboard. Same old problem. Went back to my old keyboard, even though it doesn't match the cool black Dell box and monitor.

Can only speak for myself.

in my experience (1)

kraada (300650) | more than 12 years ago | (#3591665)

If I type at top speed (120-130wpm) after about 5 minutes on a normal keyboard, my wrists start to hurt. On a natural keyboard I get about 15 minutes before i start to experience any discomfort. Since I'm not normally typing so much so quickly it's not an issue all the time (ie- I can use normal keyboards for some stuff), however the natural keyboard is much nicer to my wrists in my experience.
just my .02
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