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Take a standard computer keyboard, chop it in half, and stand each half on end. Now, put one hand on each side, palms facing in-and type. It might feel strange, but if you’re a heavy user, this odd setup could help avert chronic injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The “vertical keyboard” lessens strain because it allows the forearm to remain in its neutral position (think handshake). The palms-down posture required by conventional keyboards, in contrast, forces the radius and ulna to cross, a stressed configuration. A recent study by Alan Hedge, director of Cornell University’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, showed that when typists used the vertical model, they spent significantly less time with their wrists and arms in the strained positions known to increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomic-Interface Keyboard Systems-the La Jolla, Calif., company that designed and patented the novel data-entry tool-is seeking licensees to turn the prototype into a commercial product.

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Tagged: Biomedicine

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