Better-For-You Keyboards?

Earlier this week, a New York Times article in the Technology section talked about the emerging trend of keyboards that “bend” to the needs of the user (see article).

For example, the Phantom keyboard, which will be in stores this Spring, allows users to twirl and tilt the keyboard for ultimate positioning. The idea is to find an angle at which the keyboard is comfortable for typing – even when you’re not using it at a desk.

Logitech’s palm-size diNovo Mini distinguishes itself by its small and thin size, which potentially makes it more comfortable and safer on the wrists because users don’t have to tilt their hands back or force their wrists to rise as far off the desk.

But do these adjustments really do anything to help avoid problems related to repetitive motion? The answer is… it depends. The twirl and tilt feature is useful if you’re using the keyboard on your lap although it’s not very helpful if you’re at a desk, unless you have certain deformities or disorders of the arms or spine.

The smaller sized keyboard does call for less wrist movement, which can be helpful in avoiding wrist problems. However, the downside of a smaller sized keyboard is that your hands might have to be held too close together, which might cause strain on the pinky side of the wrist due to the angle at which you’re typing. So, although there’s less movement required, the fixed position might cause some extra strain.

So, if you are in the market for a new keyboard, I suggest that you try out different types at the store and see what feels most comfortable. Try to use it a little bit before you buy it and see what type of movement feels natural to you. All of our muscles develop differently in each of us, so while a split keyboard may work for some, others may find it uncomfortable.

And, regardless of the keyboard you use, keep in mind some basic tips: Keep your elbows at your side, your hands just slightly below elbow height and your wrists slightly bent back.

Healthiest regards,
Dr. Pruzansky

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