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The split keyboard was developed in response to repetitive stress injury caused by a high volume of typing. A traditionally styled keyboard tends to be hard on the wrists while promoting poor posture. This can result in long term health problems for individuals who frequently use computers. The split keyboard allows the hands to rest in a more natural position in the hopes of preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and other health problems associated with high volume computer work. Split keyboards range in cost, but are generally a good office investment.
The split keyboard comes in a variety of forms. The most simple split keyboard retains the familiar QWERTY key format on two slanted halves with wrist supports. The keyboard is generally split in the middle so that the right and left hands will not cross the keyboard. Usually these halves are integrated into a single unit, rather than being totally separated. This split keyboard is not adjustable, but does provide more support for the wrists than a traditional keyboard. The number pad is usually located to the right, although in some modules it is placed in the middle of the split keyboard.
Sometimes a split keyboard is offered in three sections. The primary typing area is split into two, while the number pad makes up a third. For accountants and other individuals dealing with a high volume of numbers, an accessible and ergonomic number pad is a vital tool. If a split keyboard is sold in three sections, they are usually designed to be configured in any order by the user. Additionally, the sections have pivots which make them adjustable.
A more ergonomically useful split keyboard has two halves which are adjustable. The two units are separate, allowing them to be positioned in the most optimal way for the user. The user can manipulate the split keyboard until the layout is comfortable. These split keyboards come with wrist support as well. The configurable angle of the keyboard allows the typist to find a setting which works for him or her, promoting good posture without compromising comfort and typing ability.
It may take several days for a typist to become accustomed to a split keyboard, but the switch is well worth it. Repetitive motion such as extensive fast typing can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects a growing number of Americans. According to the American National Institutes of Health, in 1998, 3 out of every 10,000 Americans lost time from work as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome. Preventative ergonomic measures in the workplace will prevent the onset of carpal tunnel, which is painful, debilitating, and sometimes permanently disabling.