Friday, January 26, 2007

Goodbye CTS

All of us who use computers extensively know what CTS, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, is. It is a painful disorder of our wrists. It's cause is attributed to repeated motion of the hands especially with a bent wrist.

The very first time I felt tingling in my wrists, I switched over to using a cordless mouse which helped me use both hands (thanks to my ambidextrousness). When that failed, I switched to a trackball and that has been working since. Switching between the different mouses (mice?) has helped me vary my movements often. I have so far been successful in avoiding CTS.

I have always been on the lookout for new devices that make life easier. I wanted to try this new kind of mouse which reduces the tilt of your wrist. But, before I did that, I started wondering if people who do not use computers, but write a lot, are affected by CTS. My research said that they are not. Voila.

Here was the answer: tablet and pen!

Graphics tablets are an input device (like a mouse/keyboard) which allows one to hand draw images in the computer. They consist of a drawing surface and a (electronic) stylus (pen). The stylus has buttons akin to a conventional mouse, and they are customizable. The tablets are generally used by graphics artists who want to have finer control over what they are drawing on their computers. This is very useful with tools like Photoshop or Illustrator. It offers features like pressure sensitivity and tilt sensitivity. These are normally useful with graphics applications. But, I found out that a tablet can also be used in lieu of a mouse for all general purposes too.

Using a graphics tablet and stylus is like drawing on a sheet of paper. Hence it doesn't stress your wrists as much as a common mouse would. Wacom makes excellent tablets. They are much more expensive than a mouse, but worth a try if you are prone to CTS. I bought this tablet for editing pictures and creating art in Photoshop. But, I found it to be very useful as an alternate mouse too.
In case you are experiencing CTS, I think you should strongly consider trying a graphics tablet.

I will write another report after a few months of usage, debating my above stated theory.