Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

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Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 8:41 pm

So, I've just started work at a summer internship and one of my computers is killing me. I do software engineering, but I have two systems, one Windows and one Unix. My Windows box is brand new, has a great keyboard and mouse, and is positioned well on my desk. My Unix system, which I'm mainly on, not so much...

The Unix system has started causing me pain in my right forearm, which I'm afraid might be a carpal tunnel issue, and because of this I might try to request a new keyboard Monday. It started me thinking about long term solutions for my normal computer usage. I'll look into getting a Microsoft Ergo keyboard, or at least trying a few ergonomic keyboards, but I wanted to know if anyone had insight as to what the best pointing device is for preventing carpal tunnel. My laptop has both a trackpad and a trackpoint, but for desktop usage I'd have to get the Apple TrackPad thing (I'd rather not, but if it's necessary...) a trackball or just some form of ergonomic mouse. Any suggestions?

tl;dr
What's best to prevent carpal tunnel: Mouse, trackpad, trackpoint, trackball or other? Defend your answer please.
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 9:13 pm

My wrist pain pretty much went away when I switched to a mouse pad with a gel wrist support.
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Fri May 11, 2012 9:15 pm

I live in front of a computer both at home and at work. Keyboard-wise, I'm stuck with the laptop keyboard at work(though Lenovo's non-chiclet are pretty decent) and of course the Model M reigns at home. As for pointing devices and accessories, I'm somewhat rigid in both the laptop and desktop domains (Trackpads/points on laptops are used only if I need to move to where the printer is and print a document. Otherwise, it's mouse time.) The mouse must be a MS Intellimouse Explorer Optical 5-button and I have a collection of the large-size 3M Precise Mousing Surface mouse pads with the gel rest. Been at this for a long time and suffer no RSI issues.
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 7:44 am

I had a similar problem at an internship last summer. For me the problem was mouse based because I was drawing circuits during the day and playing high APM Starcraft at night. When I brought in an ergonomic mouse from home it fixed the problem for the most part. I also took a little bit of time off Starcraft until my wrist was feeling better. And I re-read the ergonomics information at my company and followed it more closely.
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 8:55 am

Solution for me was to buy an ultra-sensitive gaming mouse, which means I never have to move my wrist and just move the mouse with my fingers. Requires about an inch and a half of lateral movement to move my mouse all the way across a 1920-wide panel. Most of the work is done by my thumb and little finger :). When I used to work offshore, 5 weeks of working on computers with "normal" mice hurt a lot :(.
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 9:01 am

Could you just VNC into your Unix box from your Windows one? No need to re-invent the wheel if you don't need to 8)
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 9:30 am

I would try VNC from the windows box in to the unix machine.

If that's not an option, you should really request your employer provide you the same mouse/keyboard/wrist support on your unix machine that your windows machine has. Also ask them to ergonomically set up the unix machine (monitor stand, positioning, etc...) so that it's not painful for you.

Many larger employers would have no problem doing this, and smaller employers would likely do it if you ask the right person nicely :-)

In the end, it's you who have to sit there 8+hours/day and it's you who suffer if your set up is not right. So take a few minutes and get it right, so the long term effects on your body are minimized!
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 10:37 am

I work for one of those big companies where they practically throw people at you and options to try to prevent these kinds of injuries...

Quite fun as you can select from a range of different mice, keyboards, chairs etc. and get to try each one out.

What I've heard from people that DO suffer these sorts of things is that it is more about changing up the routine than totally fixing it with one mouse...

E.g. one guy I knew had both a left hand and right hand mouse and would swap between the two every few hours or so to give his other hand a rest.

Most people have those ergo keyboards that split down the middle and have an adjustable angle to the split. You can buy both normal height and flat versions of this keyboard.

Also there's mice that you hold differently that slide around and require more elbow/arm movement than wrist which can be used if you ahve severe issues.

I personally just have a sit/stand desk where I can raise the desk up to standing height at the press of a button and stand at my desk while working on my pc for a couple of hrs everyday and have a high dpi mouse. Most of my problems were click + drag issues and solved them by better learning keyboard shortcuts and limiting my mouse use.
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 6:01 pm

One of my former co-workers had similar issues. A trackball fixed it for him.
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Re: Keyboard & Mouse - Carpal Tunnel Worries

Postposted on Sat May 12, 2012 7:37 pm

I'm pretty set on requesting a new keyboard Monday. If that helps, great! If it doesn't, I'll probably order a mousepad with wrist rest.
I got to Best Buy to try some keyboards today. Total waste of time. They feel of the keys on the Microsoft Ergo keyboard is just terrible, and the only Cherry switched keyboard in the store (Razer BlackWidow Ultimate) was in a box with only the directional arrows exposed. They felt nice, but I'm not spending $100+ on a keyboard without more of a trial.
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