Floating PC Mouse Designed to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition which tends to affect those who perform repetitive movements with their hands, such as assembly-line workers, musicians, and computer users. Famed Russian designer Vadim Kibardin has designed a computer mouse to help computer users reduce the risk of CTS and has nicknamed it The BAT - because it floats in the air.
Pressure on the median nerve - the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand – is the main cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. Although studies have been inconsistent, there is evidence that frequent computer keyboard and mouse use can contribute to the painful condition.
In 2008, researchers publishing in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders reviewed eight studies of computer work and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). All of the studies had at least one limitation which led the authors to conclude that computer use does not cause CTS, however three of the studies reviewed did show a relationship between intense mouse use (more than 20 hours per week) and CTS symptom worsening.
Kibardin Design’s BAT levitating wireless mouse is designed to reduce the pressure in the wrist and therefore reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. It floats above the surface through the use of magnets so your wrist and hand does not rest on your desk creating the pressure that can lead to pain.
However, before you rush online to find where you can buy the BAT – sadly, it is still in pre-production and release could be as far as six months away. So, until that time, here are some tips on preventing carpal tunnel syndrome from Prevention Magazine.
• During computer work, make sure your keyboard and mouse are at a proper height for you to work comfortably. You do not want them too low, or your wrists will be bent upward while typing, creating pressure on the nerves. Remember to take frequent breaks during the workday.
• If CTS is caused by repetitive action, try applying ice to the area twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes. The cold will reduce swelling and the resulting pain.
• Try this simple exercise to improve symptoms: Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your little finger. Then bend your three middle fingers over this bridge, toward your palm. Using your other hand, pull on those middle fingers, trying to straighten them. As you resist the tug, your wrist tendons will push the carpal tunnel out, stretching it a little to help make room for the nerve. Do this five times, holding each stretch for a count of five. Repeat the exercise three times daily.
• Ask your doctor about a wrist splint which can keep the wrists from bending too much. Your doctor or therapist may suggest wearing one whenever you do anything that brings on symptoms.
• Medications that are helpful include NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen) and corticosteroid injections.
• Try an ancient technique known as wet cupping. A small 2009 German study found that it eased CTS pain and symptoms for one week. The technique is performed by an acupuncturist and involves pricking the skin around relevant acupuncture points and placing glass cups that creates suction on the area for 5 to 10 minutes.
• Traditional acupuncture may also help reduce inflammation, relieving nerve compression. A 2011 study found that those with mild to moderate CTS who were treated with acupuncture eight times over the course of a month were more likely to find relief than those who took medications.
• Iyengar yoga has been shown to improve grip strength which allows CTS patients to skip using wrist splints for pain. The practice also emphasizes proper body alignment which may further ease pressure on the nerves.
• Though still in clinical trials, Botox may be a future option to treat CTS pain. By preventing the release of a neurotransmitter, Botox interferes with the communication between the nerves and muscles, potentially easing carpal tunnel pain.
Thomas JF et al. Carpal tunnel syndrome and the use of computer mouse and keyboard: A systematic review. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2008, 9:134 doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-134
Prevention Magazine, February 13 2013