Assessment from a specialist

Question: I had an assessment from a specialist last Friday (11/10/96) from the Northern Occupational Health Authority.  He basically repeated what my own GP had already said, that this problem was definitely work related and I should try not to use it at all. Can you imagine going through life in general when you are right handed without using that hand!!!  He then said it is up to my work place to decide whether I can carry on working or whether I need more time off.

I mentioned wrist supports to him to which he replied “I personally think they are a waste of time as the muscles where the supports lie will just waste away”.He also did a thorough examination of my neck, back, shoulders, arms and wrists. When tested with the reflex hammer my right arm never even move when hit below the elbow. Needless to say this does not look good.  I also asked him about an ergonomic keyboard which we have been looking into. I left a copy of this information with him to let me know his opinion at a later date.

I then went to see my GP later that day. He said the bottom line is that it is my decision because my arm is so bad.I spoke to a representative from Maltron in Surrey who specialize in ergonomic equipment. He recommended hiring it on a four week trial and decide for myself whether I think it is worth buying. They charge ten pounds plus VAT for hire and then take this amount off your bill if and when you decide to buy.  I will let you have my opinion of the keyboard (which is for both hands and also has a trackball instead of a mouse) when I have tried and tested it.

Answer 1: I am an RSI sufferer in the United States (New York City) and in following these discussions I have seen several mentions of a “Maltron” ergonomic keyboard, with trackerball, as absolutely the best alternative for computer users. However, I have mentioned the name to a several dealers here, one at one of the largest computer stores in New York City which has a complete line of other ergonomic keyboards, and he never heard of it.

Is it a name used only in the UK, or is available here under another name, can I order it from there, or from here…In short, how do I get my hands on one from here in America? Many thanks for any information you can give me.

Answer 2: In today’s edition of the UK “Daily Telegraph” (Friday 18 October) there is a review of various keyboards that mentions “Stephen Hobday, whose PCD Maltron keyboard appeared 20 years ago. He and his family produce the boards from his home at East Molesey, Surrey. … He and Lilian Malt, a keyboard training specialist, came up with the split board which is cupped to suit finger lengths.” Later, the reviewer, Christopher Davies, gives the price as 375 pounds but says he noticed no change in the pains he associated with keyboarding: “The jury is still out.”

Another model mentioned is the Siemens Nixdorf Ergonomically Optimized keyboard (116 pounds): “This butterfly board was the most adjustable of the ergonomic designs we tried.” The latter is a German board, so it looks like you’d have to find a US firm that sells imported gear. But, in view of the mixed (even contradictory) opinions expressed by different reviewers, it would be best to get a hands-on trial if you can manage it. Good luck!

Answer 3: Stephen Hobday can be reached at shobday@cix.compulink.co.uk. I’m sure he will be able to tell you where to buy the Maltron in the States.


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