After many years of typing I’ve recently developed Blackberry thumb and carpal tunnel syndrome. If you have similar symptoms there are a couple of things you can do to get immediate relief. There are 2.5 million blackberry users and most of them use their thumbs to type out messages at up to 40 words per minute. However, the repetitive motions you use to use with your thumbs type out messages can cause repetitive stress injury. Here are ways to avoid it…
This is my Bluetooth keyboard connected wirelessly to my Treo Smartphone at a nearby airport
Blackberries and most smart phones allow devices to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. One way I found relief, is to use a portable wireless Bluetooth keyboard with my PALM device. The portable keyboard folds up to a size that can fit in a coat pocket. When unfolded, the keys are full size for easy typing, but some of the keys to double duty with the aid of special function keys. For example, the very top row of number keys on a standard keyboard don’t exist on the portable keyboard, instead you press a function key and use the top row of letter keys to activate numbers.
So if my TREO/Blackberry messages are short, I still use my thumbs. However, I found the portable keyboard to be incredibly convenient when typing long messages or memos or long e-mails. Below is an actual picture of my Treo and the IGO portable keyboard. At an airport. While I travel with a laptop computer, it’s often overkill for just stay in touch with my e-mail and instant messaging. It’s much easier for me to pull my smart phone out of my pocket, check my instant messaging and e-mail, and decided that point whether or not I need to use the portable bluetooth keyboard or if I should set up my laptop. In most cases I never need to set up my laptop.
You can buy an IGO Mobility or Stowaway Ultraslim Bluetooth keyboard at various places on the web for as little as 40 bucks. The one I use operates on two AAA batteries. To set it up, you’ll press a couple of keys on the keyboard to activate the Bluetooth. On your Bluetooth or smart phone, you’ll have to install a small application that will allow the Bluetooth keyboard to work. Once the software is working and the keyboard is within range you’ll be able to type wirelessly on your Blackberry or smart phone using a full size keyboard.
Experts have the following recommendations to avoid Blackberry thumb:
– You should take frequent breaks, we all know that sometimes this is possible and sometimes this is not it depends on your workload.
– You should write shorter and fewer messages. If your conversations are such that they allow abbreviations, this is one way you can type less.
– Change how you grip your Blackberry or smart phone. One way to avoid carpal tunnel is to type with your wrists as straight as possible. When you are gripping your Blackberry or smart phone, attempt to keep your wrists as straight as possible, or place your device on a table or flat surface for support instead of using your hands and wrists.
– Don’t always use your thumbs to type on your blackberry or smartphone. That’s precisely why I use a portable bluetooth keyboard if I think I’m going to be typing for more than just a few moments. If you don’t have a portal keyboard, you might alternate between using your thumbs and another finger or using multiple fingers.