Carpal tunnel problems in both hands

Question:  I have got carpal tunnel problems in both my hands. It is very mild, but I don’t want it get worse.  It started about two years ago, and then disappeared for about one and half year (after some rehabilitation and changes in my workplace. I also bought a Contour Mouse, which helped much with the right palm, and ErgoRest forearm rests).

Now I changed my work and it is here again. I have got degree in laser physics, but now I work mostly as a C++ programmer, webmaster and teacher of C++ and Pascal.  I am considering buying an ergonomic keyboard now. (And, of course, I went to see a doctor.) I live in the Czech Republic and don’t have much money, so it will very likely be the Microsoft Natural one. It’s cheapest and it’s the only one I can buy in the Czech Rep. locally. I am no touch typist; just use two or three fingers to do all the work.

My question is: does anybody have any experience with this keyboard? Can you recommend it or not? Also tell me, please, if you have any experience with carpal tunnel, speech recognition for C++ programming or if you by a lucky chance know some RSI specialist anywhere in the Czech Republic.

Answer: I am a programmer and have had a non-specific RSI condition (i.e. they don’t know what the matter is) for about 1 year.  I use the MS Natural keyboard, and find it helpful. However, I am a touch typist – people who use my computer and don’t touch type seem to hate the keyboard. What about just forcing yourself to (very slowly at first) use all your fingers? It actually only took me about a month to regain my former typing speed, although now I am slowing myself down again…

I have found that typing speed doesn’t affect programming speed very much (I now try to think more before I type, make less mistakes, and rely on the compiler less!)  I tried speech recognition for Java and Perl (using Emacs and Dragon Naturally Speaking). See the following (especially the first 2 for programming by voice):

http://www.egroups.com/group/VoiceCoder

http://developer.dragonsys.com/

http://www.voicerecognition.com/

I am no longer use speech recognition, since I developed voice strain; however, it was more useable than you might think.  All I can say about carpal tunnel is that I’ve lost count the number of times I have read in books, websites and newsgroups that it is too often treated by surgery, and the same problem often reoccurs after surgery.  Finally, I would say that lots of things have helped manage my condition.

In no particular order: taking regular breaks, improving work station set up, improving posture, lots of exercise, slowing myself down whilst at the computer, improving my mouse and typing technique, etc. There are lots of good books available from Amazon – search the archives for some recommendations.


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