In 2010, my boyfriend at the time was holding my hand. He looked down at me and said, “Your arm is really swollen.”
It was true. I’d been “toughing it out” for months and didn’t want to acknowledge that I, at 23, had a bad case of carpal tunnel, or a repetitive stress injury. At the time, I was working at my first IT job on a help desk. My desk was too high; my keyboard and mouse were of the beautifully-designed and horribly unergonomic Apple variety; and I spent 8 hours a day at work typing and clicking, only to come home to Facebook and video games. I had to cut back, go to physical therapy, and count myself lucky that I didn’t need surgery. It happened to me, but it shouldn’t have to happen to anyone.
Today, I’m still on the computer constantly. How can I afford to do that? After my initial period of rest and physical therapy, I made significant changes to the ergonomics of my workstation. Those changes let me work as a technical writer all day, and still come home to more computer time at home. Here are some of the products that help me avoid a relapse of carpal tunnel:
- Angled keyboard, like the Goldtouch Go!, which keeps me from twisting my wrists while I type
- Trackpad, such as the Smart Cat 410 or the one built right into my work laptop, which I use left-handed to give my right hand a break from mousing and clicking
- Travel-size mouse, like the ones sold here, which are light enough to not tire my wrist easily when I need to do precise image editing or want to play a computer game
- Adjustable-height standing desk, such as the WorkFit-D, which lets me stand or sit with my arms at a 90-degree angle from my body
That’s my anti-injury setup. However, every person’s ergonomics are unique, so different equipment may be better for you or your employees and coworkers. We’ll look at the underlying principles behind ergonomic equipment in a future article.
By Sharon Campbell
Original Image: tutescin on Flickr