Handheld Hurt

February 28, 2005


By Nicole C. Wong
San Jose Mercury News

Doris Mosblech’s boss at Embarcadero Systems bought her a BlackBerry last month so she could instantly read and reply 24/7 to all the e-mails funneling in from the Alameda company’s 2,500 employees.

The 53-year-old network manager, who already works 14-hour days, now has even less leisure time to garden and scrapbook. But the biggest pain isn’t receiving the round-the-clock disruptions — it’s replying to them.

Mosblech torques her wrists and curls her fingers to clutch the 4.69-inch handheld device while scrunching her thumbs to type 50 to 100 e-mails a day on the keyboard’s popcorn kernel-size buttons.

“My fingers get crampy, my hands hurt, and I have problems grasping things,” the San Mateo woman said. Some-times “it will hurt all the way up to my neck.”

Repetitive stress injuries — a common curse of desktop and laptop computer users — are now afflicting people who type on handheld devices. As the sizes and prices of handheld typing devices continue to shrink, doctors and therapists caution that consumers need to treat their on-the-go text messaging work as a physical workout.

“If I tell you to run a marathon and you’re not in shape for it, you’d think I’m crazy,” said Dr. Jules Steimnitz, a San Francisco physiatrist who treats repetitive stress injuries. But when it comes to text messaging, “people don’t know what they can and can’t do. People don’t think of it as an activity using the muscles and tendons and ligaments.”

To read the rest of this article, go to http://www.mercurynews.com/archive-search.

Related Article:

 By Nicole C. Wong
San Jose Mercury News

Is typing tying your nerves in knots? There are many kinds of repetitive stress injuries and just as many ways to deal with them. Here are some facts to keep at your aching fingertips:

Typing techniques
Dr. Norman Kahan, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist in Cupertino, has developed ways to ease the strain.

* THE DROP: Instead of keeping your arms still while forcing your wrists and fingers to stretch and strain to reach buttons scattered across the keyboard, start swinging your arms and take advantage of momentum. Use your elbow as a hinge that lifts your arm and softly drops it so the fingers hit the targeted keys, with the help of gravity.

* THE ROLL: Rapidly type several letters with little effort by rolling your fingers over adjacent keys. It’s like playing a piano chord, but you’re hitting keys successively instead of simultaneously. To type the word “power,” gently rock your right hand from right to left over the letters “p” and “o”; then rotate your left hand from left to right so the fingers roll over the letters “w,” “e” and “r.”

* THE GLIDE: Gripping and maneuvering the computer mouse with the thumb and pinkie can strain your tendons. Instead, rest the entire palm on the mouse so the hand has a place to rest while the arm and shoulder provide the pushing power. Move the mouse in circular motions, like an ice skater carving figure eights.

To read the rest of this article, go to http://www.mercurynews.com/archive-search.

1 Response to Handheld Hurt

  1. Nicole says:

    The Washington Post’s Random Access technology trends roundup column cited and summarized my Personal Technology section centerpiece cover-story and my “handy” related article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15358-2005Mar31_2.html


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