Ergonomic Support

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Ergonomic Support

Ergonomic Support

Where To Find Ergonomic Keyboards

Ergonomic keyboards are said to reduce the risk of repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and make typing significantly easier. Ergonomic design experts look at ways to reduce fatigue and create more comfortable key arrangements for users. These special keyboards can cost the same price as a regular keyboard or they can go up to $600, depending on how fancy you want them. There are, in fact, many different types of keyboards from which to choose.

Split keyboards are one of the more popular designs because they reduce ulnar deviation, which is a hand position where the wrist is bent toward the little finger, contributing to the fatigue of muscles, thumb-area tendons and wrist nerves. A conventional keyboard requires users to strain to reach the space bar and vertical columns of keys like "Home" or "Page Up/Down." Split keyboards change the arrangement of the keys, separating the keys into two halves elbow-width apart. Sometimes the angle is slightly changed to reduce ulnar deviation further. After an initial drop-off in speed or accuracy, users generally get used to this product design within a day or two. Examples of split keyboards include The Kinesis FreestyleTM Adjustable Split and the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.

Tented keyboards are another one of the popular ergonomic keyboards to choose. Going one step further, computer workstations with these keyboards aim to correct ulnar deviation by moving the two halves of the keyboard toward the elbows to correct a non-neutral joint position called "pronation." With pronation, the hands are rotated inward toward the thumbs, with the forearms twisted. Tented keyboards allow users to work with the palms angled toward each other to reduce fatigue, shifting tendons, strained ligaments and twisted nerves. Some people say these keyboards have moderate advantages over conventional keyboards, although it takes longer for people to adjust to tented keyboards than split keyboards. On the downside, critics say that visibility of the keys is diminished with some designs. Additionally, these thicker keyboards may require additional arm support. Examples of tented keyboards include the ErgoMagic 3-Piece Split & Tented Keyboard and the GoldTouch Adjustable Keyboard.

You may be wondering how ergonomics testing is done. In typing ergonomics research, design specialists may use "body part discomfort scales" to test for key comfort. Fatigue is tested by asking study participants to type as long as they can, by asking them to fill out a bipolar Likert questionnaire or by using a Borg scale. Researchers ask users which type of ergonomic keyboards they prefer to gauge which designs will sell best. Muscle exertions may also be tested by analyzing electrical signals emitted from the muscles while involved with a task using a technique called electromyography. Researchers can also use questionnaires to compare musculoskeletal injury frequency over time, comparing workers using conventional keyboards and workers using ergonomic designs.

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