Springy Keyboard

The following article was published recently by Reuters. Anyone heard anything about this ‘Springy keyboard’ before. I haven’t. Call me skeptical, but does anyone believe this or is it another study with few people in it!
Study: ‘Springy’ keyboard reduces hand pain – Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO – A computer keyboard designed with ”springy” keys can significantly reduce hand pain such as that associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a study released Wednesday. “The study showed that a significant reduction in symptoms is possible with a simple intervention – using springs underneath each key that change the force or feel of the key switches,” report author David Rempel of the ergonomics program run by the University of California-San Francisco and the University of California-Berkeley.

The 12-week study selected 20 keyboard users at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, who had reported symptoms associated with the start of carpal tunnel syndrome – a repetitive stress injury which causes the nerves to swell at the point where they pass through the wrist. By examining the differences in test subjects using regular keyboards and those using keyboards modified to feature a ”springier” rebound of the keys, the researchers concluded that keyboard design could play an important role in managing hand and wrist pain. “This is the first randomized clinical study to demonstrate that keyboard design can reduce pain in computer users who have hand discomfort similar to symptoms in carpal tunnel syndrome,” Rempel said in a news release.

The researchers said keyboard users should still follow normal precautions against repetitive stress injuries, including reducing typing time, taking frequent breaks, and making sure they do not have to stretch to reach the keyboard. But they also said that health care providers should consider recommending a three-month trial of “springier” keyboards for computer users who report hand discomfort. The study used the “Protouch” keyboard manufactured by the Key Tronic Corp. of Spokane, Washington, a major ergonomic producer of keyboards for PCs, terminals, and workstations.

Comment 1: I think your suspicions may be justified. You really need to watch articles like this. Odds on it were sponsored by the keyboard manufacturers. US legislation is quite strict on declaration of sponsorship in printed publications, but something coming out from Reuters may not be subject to the same rules — doesn’t look like it.

Comment 2: I’ve received an email commenting that David Rempel co-authored two studies into keyboard force in the early 1990s:

  1. ARMSTRONG T.J., FOULKE J.A., MARTIN B.J., GERSON J, REMPEL D.M. (1994) Investigation of applied forces in alphanumeric keyboard work. American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal 55(1):30-35.
  2. REMPEL D., GERSON J. (1991) Fingertip forces while using three different keyboards. Proceedings of the Human Factors Society, 35th Annual Meeting, pp253-255.”

I haven’t read the articles or seen the keyboard; I’m just passing on the cites. My thanks to the contributor of the information.

Comment 3: In the states, Dr. Rempel is the “expert.” and I agree with his statement. I’ve tried five different keyboards and found some, like the IBM standard keyboard, to be the hardest to type on. One the best, the Apple Macintosh standard keyboard. Some are harder to use than others. One of my doctors told me that if you have an old keyboard without any spring, you are causing undo damage to your hands in that when you type on the old keyboard you are, as an analogy, pounding your fingers on cement. You need some response from the keys to keep your fingers healthy.


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