What's this about?
After a conversation with a friend of mine, who can no longer play MMOs due to this condition, I decided to write about carpal tunnel.
See, it may be possible to prevent carpal tunnel despite high amounts of computer usage, or at least lessen its effects. I am not a medical professional, however.What makes you qualified?
Let me be clear: I am no medical professional
. Any knowledge comes from my father's 30+ years experience in programming, and my 20+ years in gaming and computer documentation.
My father eventually developed carpal tunnel. I nearly developed it, but was able to prevent and then reverse it by using what he had learned. So, please take this with a grain of salt, and perhaps use it as a launching point for your own research!Why bring it up?
I was reminded of this issue when a friend of mine, barely 32, developed carpal tunnel as a result of intense gaming for many years. We can't play ESO together, or at least, he can only play for short periods of time. How serious is carpal tunnel?
Carpal tunnel is a serious issue; it can prevent you from gaming, eventually prevent simple actions such as picking up a coffee cup, or remove your ability to do things like picking up your child, without experiencing pain. My father ended up having two wrist surgeries. He missed out on playing baseball with his kids.What can be done to prevent carpal tunnel?
You need a keyboard with "natural bounceback."
What is meant by "natural bounceback"? Hold your hand at a level with your eyes. Using your other hand, tap between the knuckle and first joint. See your finger bouncing back upwards? That is the natural bounceback.
The depth of the keys should make use of this mechanism. To do so, the keys must be deep enough AND have enough "spring" that they encourage the fingers to spring back upwards, naturally.
If these two elements do not exist, and the user is consistently "pulling" the fingers back upwards, it encourages the development of carpal tunnel.Is there anything else I can do?
It helps to vary hand motion. If possible, vary your input devices during the day to encourage a range of motion. Try setting macros or plug-ins for more constantly used tasks. This isn't advocating macros for PvP, but there are other, reasonable areas in which you can lessen the number repeated key presses.Which keyboards possess "natural bounceback"?
The old IBM model is an example my father often spoke of, though there are many modernized variations. The kb I use today is modeled after it, and is one that I selected after trying multiple kbs over several years.
The important things for your keyboard are the depth of the key (it should roughly match the level of your fingers' "natural bounceback"), as well as a natural "spring back" after pressing the key. You do not want to be pulling your fingers back up, after each stroke.In your experience, how effective can a keyboard with "natural bounceback" be at preventing carpal tunnel?
My father never developed carpal tunnel until, after ~20 years of a job of intense programming, they changed the keyboards. For myself, I used to regularly type 20+ pages of single-spaced text per day, and have never suffered its effects--after I changed my keyboard. Before I changed my keyboard, I was beginning to need to ice my hands, brace the wrists, and so on.Closing words
I hope this helps others out there. I'll definitely miss my gaming buddy; I wish that my friend and I'd known to have this conversation years ago. Maybe it would have helped. Maybe not. Either way, I wish you all the best in your gaming careers.
Remember: I'm no medical professional. This comes from decades in coding, docs, and gaming, over two generations. And ultimately, you'll need to go with your own experience.
Also, if this is not the correct place for this guide, please feel free to move it. I am rather new, here!