BlackBerry’s; Too Much of Anything Is No Good


The Technology industry appears to have brought on a new medical affliction. Would seem to be we now have a new over use type of syndrome known as BlackBerry thumb.

(Washington Post) About three months ago, the National Association of Manufacturers vice president noticed that, as she started to type, the area between her thumb and wrist would begin to throb.

Orthopedists say they are seeing an increasing number of patients with similar symptoms, a condition known as “overuse syndrome” or “BlackBerry thumb.” In some patients, the disability has become severe.

Bette R. Keltner, dean of the Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, has been forced to put her BlackBerry down. After two years of constant use, her hands were in so much pain, she had to stop typing. She remembers the trigger point: It was a 10-hour conference one Saturday where she answered about 150 e-mails. “Days later, I was in excruciating pain,” she said.

The American Society of Hand Therapists issued a consumer alert in January saying that handheld electronics are causing an increasing amount of carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. With that warning, the society included directions on how to properly hold the devices, urging users to take breaks and, if possible, place pillows in their laps so their wrists are in a more upright position.

However, for many this is not such a new fad issue of pain or discomfort. For many that are not new to BlackBerry’s this has been an all but real issue for a while. For those new to the BlackBerry game that may be another story. From comes a story discussing the issues of possible thumb pain and fatigue from the use of BlackBerry’s.

The Indianapolis Star posted a Wall Street Journal article discussing a new ailment that thumb keyboard users may be suffering from. BlackBerry, Treo, Sidekick, and thumboard owners may feel their thumbs exhibiting strain and fatigue. There is a new device out called the Futur Thumb Stabilizer that may assist in this carpal tunnel-type ailment. Doctors actually treat it with anti-inflammatory medicine, splints, and physical therapy. Targus has widened its keys to help with the problem and I know my Sidekick’s keys are spaced quite well, too. I myself have experienced thumb fatigue on my Sidekick while using AIM. Some people have even suffered blisters as a result of thumb typing. Have you experienced this, and what device were you using? Thanks to for the link.
Joel’s Note: I used a BlackBerry for over two years and never had any type of thumb problem. I have to wonder if these people are using it incorrectly or if I was just lucky.

WebMd has a very informative three part story on the thumb pain syndrome associated with typing on a BlackBerry by pecking out messages with their thumbs at an extremely fast rate; in many circumstances individuals have the ability to type 40 words a minute.

“The thumb is not a very dexterous part of the hand,” Hedge tells WebMD. “It is really designed as a stabilizer for pinch gripping with a finger. That is why you only have two of them, not eight. It is the fingers that have dexterity, not the thumb.”

The full-size keyboard was designed with this in mind. One uses one’s dexterous fingers for lightning strikes on the letter keys. One reserves one’s relatively clumsy thumbs for the humble task of striking the spacebar.

“When you switch that around, you put a lot of strain on the thumb,” Hedge says. “So if you persist in typing a lot of information with your thumbs, you risk injury.”

Hand surgeon Prosper Benhaim, MD, associate professor of orthopaedic and plastic surgery at UCLA, agrees that too much thumbing could be injurious.

1) BlackBerry Thumb: Real Illness or Just Dumb?

2) BlackBerry Thumb: Tendinitis, Aggravated Arthritis

3) BlackBerry Thumb Rx: Rest Your Weary Digits

Posted April 24, 2005 by
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