RE: Occupational hazard - carpal tunnel

Subject: RE: Occupational hazard - carpal tunnel
From: "Carey Jennifer (Cry)" <jennifer -dot- carey -at- cdi -dot- cerberus -dot- ch>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2002 15:16:39 +0100

Annamarie wrote:

Since I'm beginning to exhibit early symptoms of carpal tunnel, I
thought I'd ask for personal experience with forestalling the
syndrome.

I'm pretty sure the culprit is the mousing I do with my PC laptop.
My Mac has a lowered keyboard and a wrist rest. The PC has an MS
ergonomic keyboard. It's the mouse that gave me my first sharp pains.
I've changed the mouse to one with a lower profile and dropped it
onto the lowered shelf where my Mac stuff is. I can use the track pad
on the PC laptop and get more vigilant about learning and using
keyboard commands. I now know that one should take a break every 20
minutes or so. I've been shown some stretches to do. I plan to be a
good girl and do my yoga daily.

Any additional suggestions?

Thanks for your help.
Annamarie

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Hi Annamarie,

I have been a consultant for years and finally made the decision to invest
when I started having the same experience (also primarily from the mouse).
I actually consulted this same list some 4 years ago and posted a summary
(check archives in you're interested in a more exhaustive list of options.)

I purchased three items - all for the PC, not the mac so prices may vary:

ONE:
The Itac Systems Mousetrak - personal (trackball). http://www.mousetrak.com/
$89.00

I chose it because I have taught myself to be ambidextrous (something I
definately recommend in this profession, especially at "formatting time".)
It is a simple design really. It has a really big roller ball in the middle,
a big button on the left, a big button on the right, and an great big button
below that you can program to scroll or double-click. I originally got the
"evolution" by the same company, but it didn't fit well in my hand and they
exchanged it promptly and refunded the extra money I had paid. I love the
"personal". All programming is contained in the mousetrak so you don't need
to install software or anything like that.

TWO:
The Kinesis Professional Keyboard with dual key Footpedal
http://www.softeknet.com/kmodels.htm ($284 + $58)

This keyboard has a computer inside of it that allows you to program macros,
remap keys, make coffee and pick the perfect mate. Well, I haven't actually
tried out the last two functions, but you get the idea. The footpedal has
two big foot sized buttons (I see they now have one that supports 3 buttons,
I would have got that one if it had been around at the time) and you can put
any key on them - I set mine to Ctrl and Shift. But the BEST thing about
this keyboard is its design. WARNING: if you don't use the "traditional"
method of typing with both hands, forget it (but I doubt that happens in our
profession very often). You sit and your hands fall naturally in place on
the keyboard. Look at the site for the picture. It looks harder to use than
it is - it took me about 4 days to get up to speed. I've had it for years.
It's always worked brilliantly and the one time I thought I had a problem,
customer support was right there for me and solved my problem right away.

THREE:
A stand up document holder (about $10).

Additional notes:
Keyboard shortcuts are definately GREAT! Once I learned them I couldn't
imagine going back.

You need to adjust your workarea to be comfortable. Keep both feet on the
ground when seated, try to keep your bending parts at 90 degree angles (back
to legs, thighs to shins, upper to lower arms). You need to adjust your
monitor to be a comfortable height, you shouldn't look up at it, or have to
look too far down (but slightly is good). There are a lot of resources
about adjusting your workspace and body position on the web, just do a
search. Actually, looks you probably already have...

A final note: I felt an immediate improvement after I bought these items,
but I moved to italy shortly after that, and changed my way of working for a
while - that is, I became a project based independent consultant (not
continuous work) and taught english half the time. So, I essentially took a
6 month break. but I've been back at for almost 2 years now, and have few
problems. When I do start to feel somehting, I change my mouse hand (-er,
trackball hands) and do a check on my posture. I usually dicover that I'm
slouching or crossing my legs again.

While the upfront cost looks high for the hardware, if you think about how
much money you will lose if the problem worsens, it definately makes sense
to invest before it's too late (my opinion).

Good luck,
Jennifer

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