A few months ago, I began to have increased difficulty using my hands. While I have had episodes of wrist and hand pain and weakness dating back more than 15 years, these problems worsened when I took on additional online classes, doubling my teaching load.
The form of hereditary peripheral neuropathy that I have, Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT), affects the peripheral nervous system, including the nerves in the hands, wrists and forearms. Along with the weakness and hand pain I had sometimes had, I began to notice problems with dexterity. For example, I started to have difficulty opening jars, using chopsticks, and flossing my teeth.
Most noticeably, I find that I sometimes have difficulty typing. Although it may feel as if I am putting even pressure on the keys, some of the letters just did not show up on the screen. [(Ths mkes fr sme intrsting wrting at tims! ; ) ] At first I thought something might be wrong with my computer keyboard, but I soon realized that the problem was with my hands.
Because communicating through my computer and the internet makes up a large part of my work as an online instructor and writer for BellaOnline, I knew that I must find some solutions. One solution was to begin using a voice recognition program sometimes, called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which you can read about in another article (see the link below this article).
When I need or want to type rather than use voice recognition, I have been using an ergonomic keyboard by Microsoft, called the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. This keyboard features a split keyboard design, with the two halves curved slightly. It also has a padded wrist rest. Using this keyboard does put less stress on my wrists. My hands sit in a more natural position, allowing my elbows to rest away from my body on the armrests of my chair. This results in less hand and wrist fatigue and pain. I also experience less stress in my shoulders and neck when I type on the ergonomic keyboard rather than of my laptop keyboard.
This keyboard was easy to install, and simply plugs into one of the ports on my laptop. I use my laptop computer as my screen and hard drive. The laptop rests on my desk, with the ergonomic keyboard a couple of inches lower on the keyboard tray to my desk.
Getting used to the different shape of the ergonomic keyboard took a couple of weeks, but overall was quite easy. The hardest adjustment was with the placement of the “6” key above the letters. While I was trained to use my right hand to type the “6,” on this keyboard, I must use my left hand. My only other difficulty has been with “back” and “forward” buttons placed slightly below the “space bar” on the keyboard. Sometimes, I accidently hit that button with the heel of my palm, and switch screens accidently.
Overall, I have been very pleased with the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. I would recommend this keyboard to anyone wishing to position their hands and wrists in a more comfortable position to avoid strain and fatigue from keyboard typing.
Disclosure: This product was purchased by myself for personal and occupational use.