Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

What is a QWERTY keyboard? I've been told by a computer expert to avoid this type.

Answer:

The regular, everyday typewriter and standard computer keyboard is called QWERTY. It refers to the layout of the keys placing the six keys (QWERTY) in the upper left corner.

Believe it or not, this layout goes all the way back to 1873 when the first commercial typewriter was used. Many people have tried to change this design, but no one has succeeded. Your friend may have been suggesting you look for a tilted or slanted keyboard. The keys are still in the same order on the keyboard. The board itself is tilted or angled to put the forearms, wrists, and hands in a more neutral position.

Some designs even split the board in half so the arms remain at shoulder distance apart. This puts less stress on the neck, shoulders, and upper arms. Researchers haven't been able to find the ideal slope, angle, or tilt for the keyboard yet. It may even be different for each person and based on how much time is spent on the computer.

It is clear that the slope of the keyboard can make a difference. Instead of tilting upward, we now know a flat (or even slightly downward sloping) keyboard is best. There is less stress on the nerves and tendons going through the carpal tunnel when the wrist is close to neutral.

Richard W. Marklin, PhD, CPE, and Guy G. Simoneau, PT, PhD. Design Features of Alternative Computer Keyboards: A Review of Experimental Data. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. October 2004. Vol. 34. No. 10. Pp. 638-649.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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