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Does keyboard design improve performance and/or comfort of workplace-based computer users with musculoskeletal disorders?

Prepared by:

Kathryn Caukill, Occupational therapist

Deborah Hammond, Occupational therapist

Sigrun Wunram, Occupational therapist

OT Network, Sydney

Date:

December 2002

Review Date:

December 2004

Clinical Question:

Does keyboard design improve performance and/or comfort of workplace-based computer users with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)?

Clinical Scenario:

Alternative keyboards may be recommended for clients with MSD in order to reduce symptoms. This recommendation is at a considerable cost to employers and may generate requests from other employees without symptoms seeking alternative keyboards. It is unclear whether clients with MSD benefit from this intervention and whether the cost to the employer is justified.

Clinical Bottom Line:

The use of the Microsoft Natural Keyboard instead of the conventional linear keyboard (“101 Keyboard”) did provide benefits to workers with MSD over a period of several months. There was a trend toward improvement in overall pain, symptom severity and functional status of users. It was difficult to identify whether these benefits were substantial due to the large number and range of variables studied. The authors did not provide guidance or comment regarding relative value of the benefits obtained.
The reviewers would recommend the use of the Microsoft Natural Keyboard to computer users with MSD on a trial basis as a result of this study.

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