Author Topic: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard  (Read 3610 times)

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Offline darkpool

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Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« on: Wed, 23 January 2019, 07:54:06 »
Hi All,

Over the course of several years I had increasing pain in my forearms as a result of prolonged computer use (im a programmer). Eventually the pain got so bad that I had to have surgery after the specialists identified nerve damage. Long story short, 1.5 years after the surgery the pain is now about 70% less but I find that the pain changes depending on what kind of keyboard I use.

At work, I use a macbook pro which has chiclet style keys and the pain is minimal.
At home on my desktop I use a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Natural-Ergonomic-Keyboard-Business/dp/B004SUIM4E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548250552&sr=8-1&keywords=microsoft+ergonomic+keyboard+4000
The home keyboard causes a lot more pain. The pain doesn't come from the ergonomic shape, but rather from the pressure needed to press the keys and the distance my fingers have to travel.

Im looking for a new keyboard, which would ideally have some or all of the following characteristics:
  • Chiclet keys or very soft touch keys (im not sure what's better)
  • USB or wireless. This is for my desktop which doesn't have bluetooth
  • Ergonomic shape / key design
  • Compatible with Linux

A few options which im currently looking into which tick some of the above requirements:

I think im leaning towards the Goldtouch. I like the fact that it's quite small since it doesn't have a keypad on the side. It also appears to have soft touch chiclet keys.

Any other suggestions would be appreciated, especially from anyone who also has severe arm pain or nerve damage from typing.

Thanks.

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 23 January 2019, 08:41:02 »
In my experience, nerve compressions such as ulnar nerve compression or carpal tunnel syndrome arise from incorrect typing posture and the use of wrist or arm rests while typing rather than from the use of any particular type of keyboard or mouse.

That said, I like typing on a HHKB Pro 2, which has case-mounted Topre switches. The case-mounting provides more resiliency than plate-mounted Topre switches as found in, for example, Realforce keyboards. I use my HHKB with both Windows and Linux machines.


Offline macroxue

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 23 January 2019, 21:49:09 »
I use Kinesis Freestyle at work and a home-made keyboard with Gateron Red switches at home. Both of them are split and tent-able. Kinesis Freestyle has keys with soft touch and quite a few of my coworkers like it too.

Like Hypersphere said, posture is important. And don't forget to take regular breaks from typing, even when you are in the zone.
[Darknight: DIY 60% Split Keyboard](https://github.com/macroxue/keyboard-diy)

Offline darkpool

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 24 January 2019, 06:36:11 »
I use Kinesis Freestyle at work and a home-made keyboard with Gateron Red switches at home. Both of them are split and tent-able. Kinesis Freestyle has keys with soft touch and quite a few of my coworkers like it too.

Like Hypersphere said, posture is important. And don't forget to take regular breaks from typing, even when you are in the zone.

Thanks, the Kinesis Freestyle definitely looks like a possibility. Do you or any of your colleagues us the extra attachments that allow you to angle the keyboard? I think so far it looks like a decision between the Kinesis Freestyle and the Goldtouch GTP-0044 Go!2 Mobile Keyboard.

If anyone has any comments on soft touch mechanical vs chiclet style keyboards in terms of soft touch / low impact I would love to hear.

Yes I agree posture and general ergonomics (good chair / standing desk), taking breaks etc are really important. Not bothering about that stuff in the past is what resulted in me requiring arm / nerve surgery. I wish I had started taking care of myself at an earlier age with regards to computer use.

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 24 January 2019, 07:59:21 »
Just to clarify: By "typing posture", I meant keeping the wrists in a straight line with the forearms. Regarding wrist rests and arm rests, I meant don't use them -- while typing at least. It's okay to have something to lean on while not actually typing, but when typing (or using the mouse), do not have your arms or wrists propped on any sort of rest.

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 24 January 2019, 09:38:24 »
Hopefully you find a board you can use at home that is comfortable.  This is a topic that is important to me b/c I've had 3 friends who have now had to result to surgery to relieve the pain that their computing habits have caused them.  Most recently it was a close relative. 

I watch all of these people when they are at their desks.  Every single one of them rests his arms on his desk with his keyboard set far back.  Most use a wrist rest.  I point it out, but it's just too hard for them to change at this point.  It just feels wrong for them to move the keyboard to the front edge and sit up straight.

And now my elementary school age son is at the keyboard quite a lot.  Keyboard stays at the front edge of the desk.  Arm rests removed from chair.  No arms allowed on the desk. 


Offline macroxue

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 24 January 2019, 22:59:26 »
Yes, most of us also have "kinesis freestyle2 vip3 accessory kit" for tenting except for one guy who just leaves the keyboard flat on the desk but with the two halves far apart, at shoulder width.
 
One important thing is that the keyboard should be very adjustable so you can try all different setups and find the most comfortable one. I also tried Goldtouch v2 for like a week. Its two halves were jointed so the distance between them couldn't be adjusted. After a while, I just felt uncomfortable having to bend my arms inwards and gave up on it.
[Darknight: DIY 60% Split Keyboard](https://github.com/macroxue/keyboard-diy)

Offline BundleOfJoysticks

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 30 January 2019, 21:44:37 »
The goldtouch is crap.

The kinesis freestyle (not the mech version) is high quality, low force. It also lets you tweak the splay, tilt, separation, and tenting angle.

I have one I'm not using so if you're willing to pay shipping you can borrow it for a month and see if it helps. Just email my username at gmail.

Source: I have bad epicondylitis and have owned a dozen or more palliative keyboards.

Offline darkpool

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #8 on: Sat, 02 February 2019, 08:20:40 »
The goldtouch is crap.

The kinesis freestyle (not the mech version) is high quality, low force. It also lets you tweak the splay, tilt, separation, and tenting angle.

I have one I'm not using so if you're willing to pay shipping you can borrow it for a month and see if it helps. Just email my username at gmail.

Source: I have bad epicondylitis and have owned a dozen or more palliative keyboards.

Thanks for the info, and thanks for the offer of the loan.

I work a few days from home and a few days at my company's office (or clients) each week. So i've ultimately decided that I need a good ergonomic keyboard for at home (for my desktop) as well as one to use with my laptop for work that can easily go into my laptop bag when visiting clients, travelling etc.

So i've decided to get the Kinesis Freestyle2 with the VIP3 accessory kit for the home desktop. I'll also get the Goldtouch GTP-0044 Go!2 for my work laptop, travelling etc.

If it turns out that I like one of the two options much more than the other, i'll sell one of them.

Offline hoggy

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 10 February 2019, 16:19:15 »
Kinesis have a 60 day return policy, just in case that's of some use to you.
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 25 February 2019, 18:03:27 »
Would reccomend the Iris. They have kits that you can build and do include with a tenting mod. Tenting according to geek hack is very important. In fact, that's why some of us came here!

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 25 February 2019, 18:13:51 »
I'm also assuming on what you mean by “soft touch” is light. For that, i'd reccomend gateron clears, cherry mx reds and browns, although i reccomend the browns more as they have a tactile bump.
It was originally introduced as an ergo soft switch.

Offline hoggy

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 26 February 2019, 16:33:39 »
I'd forgotten this one.

https://www.fentek-ind.com//split_magic.htm

Only needs 20 grams of force.
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 27 February 2019, 13:27:47 »
20 grams????!?!? That's my thing!!!!!

Offline hoggy

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Re: Nerve damage in arms - need a keyboard
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 28 February 2019, 15:32:28 »
...more rubber dome than mech, but if you need low force, you don't have much choice.

...maybe switch surgery?  https://mykeyboard.co.uk/
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0