In today's world, using a computer keyboard is a part of everyday life for many. Computers form the center of most office workspaces, and many homes have at least one computer. For those away from work or home, laptop computers make it easy for people to bring a computer with them while on the go.
The increased use of computer keyboards has led to an increase in repetitive stress injuries of the wrist, hand, and/or arm, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. While seemingly innocuous, the constant and repetitive motion of typing on a computer keyboard day after day can cause a tremendous amount of stress on the body and over time can lead to injury. An ergonomic computer keyboard is designed to work with the natural design of the human wrist, hand and arm to reduce the likelihood of an injury due to repetitive stress.
The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), defines ergonomics as "a discipline that involves arranging the environment to fit the person in it. When ergonomics is applied correctly in the work environment, visual and musculoskeletal discomfort and fatigue are reduced significantly. Following ergonomic principles helps reduce stress and eliminate many potential injuries and disorders associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks."
One of the more popular styles of an ergonomic computer keyboard is the split keyboard. A traditional keyboard has the keys arranged in a straight line while a split ergonomic computer keyboard has a gap in the middle of the keyboard that divides the keys into two separate halves. Many of these types of ergonomic keyboards arrange the key halves in the shape of a V, allowing the hand and wrist to move in a more neutral, less stressful way.
Split ergonomic computer keyboards come in designs that are "fixed," which means that the keyboard cannot be adjusted. Fixed split keyboards are typically less expensive than other designs and are quite popular due to their price and availability. There are also split keyboards that are adjustable so that the user can customize the distance between the separate halves of keys, the height and/or angle of the keyboard. Adjustable keyboards tend to be more expensive than fixed keyboards, but many users find the additional versatility worth the cost.
When selecting an ergonomic computer keyboard, the purchaser should take the time to try many different brands and styles of keyboards to find the one that is right for them. It is also advised that the consumer purchase an ergonomic computer keyboard from a retailer that allows returns/exchanges. While trying out a keyboard in the store can give the purchaser some idea of the effectiveness of a particular design, only use over an extended period of time will allow someone to know whether or not a design is truly right for their individual needs.