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    I am working with a person who has multiple sclerosis resulting in hand weakness and dexterity.  She is an accountant and uses a keyboard and calculator consistently.  Any suggestions on equipment, programs or computer features that would require less force for keyboarding and/or calculating? Thanks, Kathy Wolf, OTRKathleen S. Wolf, OTR, CRC

    Return to Work & Rehabilitation Case Manager

    Waukesha Memorial Hospital

    Waukesha, WI 53188




    Hi Kathy:

    I have used several different techniques and products for Patients with MS, depending on the severity and otherfactors ( vision…)  Minikeyboards are effective if lateral movement is difficult the mini keyboards often have lower keys and are less hard to depress. 

    Word predictor software, which predicts common words and decreases the amount of keying

    There are several screen calulators, if she can mouse easier than key.  Big calc and calcu scan are two I know of,  both are mouse operated programs. 

    There is also and expanded keyboard with a calculator that has large keys (the keys are large, but easy to depress, doesn’t work well if it is hard to manage a large keyboard) 

    There are a number of windows macro keystrokes that can reduce the number of keys needed for functions as well.  
    Let me know if this is helpful. 
    Barbara Daugherty Phd, RN, ATP



    In addition to what Barbara suggested, another idea may be using a typing splint.  We used to make these for people who had spinal cord injuries using scrap splinting material.  It basically straps on easily and hold a pencil so as to allow her to use her arm motion instead of her finger tip.  The pencil then absorbs the shock/pressure of keyboarding.  It wouldn’t be worth it for short typing bursts but if she knows she has a fair amount of data entry it may be worth the extra assistance.  I know it seems like pulling out the big guns of an adaptive device but it may increase her endurance for her occupational tasks.
    Hope this helps.  Kelly Petersen Doctoral student in OT



    You may also consider voice recognition software.  I work with many patients with MS and other neurological disorders that cause weakness and incoordination, and they find the voice recognition products to truly be the easiest and most efficient methods for long stretches of data entry or text input.  Dragon Naturally Speaking has a new version (10), and it is compatible with most data entry programs.  It is worth a try.  The software and microphone headset are available at most computer stores or at nuance.com.

    Arm supports such as ergo arms and general posture and positioning can also be very helpful.

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