Monday, February 23, 2009

Preventing repetitive stress injuries from computer work

I learned a while ago that some people are more prone to tendonitis than others. Guess which group I fall into? As a result, I'm always trying to find ways to prevent bringing on new pain. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not.

When it comes to working on the computer, I try to vary what I do to avoid having the same motions all the time.  I have a MacBook that I carry around the house. When I work at my desk, I have it hooked up to a keyboard and when I'm elsewhere in the house, I use the unit itself. What I did find last year is that if I use the computer for too long at the kitchen table, I develop excruciating neck pain - to the point that I can't move. It took me a while to put the two together, but when I stopped using the computer in the kitchen for a few weeks, the pain eased off and disappeared altogether after a while. Huh.

Anyway, all this to say, I've tried different styles of mouses (mice?) and trackballs, to help my hands. I loved my big trackball until I found that it messed up my thumb. That was unexpected.

Fast forward to now. Last month, Wacom sent me a Bamboo pen and tablet to test out in place of a mouse. I know many people use - and really like - the Bamboo for art programs and designing, but the idea of using it instead of a mouse was intriguing. So, that's what I'm doing now.

I set it up last month but didn't really use it too much because it takes some getting used to. I kept going back to my mouse, but this weekend, I started to use it more. I'll keep track of my progress and do a review after I've used it for a good length of time. So far, I like it although I still find it a bit awkward. I imagine that will lessen in time.

What do you use? A mouse? Trackball? Something else?

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