Rheumatoid arthritis ‘can lead to typing difficulties’

Monday, November 8, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new research at University of Pittsburgh has revealed that joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis can lead to difficulties in typing.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limitation in the motion and function of multiple joints.

Researchers hypothesized that touch typists with structural deformities caused by RA would have significantly different typing postures, motions and speeds than those without structural deformities.

They found that participants with structural deformities due to RA showed more whole hand and wrist motions-commonly called the ‘hunt-and-peck’ method of typing-than those without (64 percent) structural deformities.

Finally, researchers found that significantly fewer participants with structural deformities used a wrist support, and there was no significant difference in typing speed between the two groups of participants.

Moreover, biomechanical research that examines the degree to which different postures and actions increase or reduce mechanical stress on joints suggests that alternative typing strategies-such as the hunt-and-peck style, floating the wrists, using fewer fingers, and keeping fingers straight rather than curved-may increase existing problems by putting additional stress on already affected joints.

For touch typists with RA, researchers offer alternative suggestions to ensure proper working hand and wrist posture including using an ergonomic keyboard and moveable wrist support and/or redesigning your computer workstation to better suit your individual typing needs.

“It is often better to change the environment to support the person doing the task than it is to change the performance itself,” said Nancy Baker, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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