This is an AMA / PSA: If you have ever had pain in your wrists/hands from being on a computer, DO NOT IGNORE IT. I repeat, DO NOT IGNORE IT.

** I launched a kickstarter last night, and a backer suggested I do this AMA because it is an issue so common to us all but not many people talk about. **

2 years ago my forearms and hands seized up on me. The best I can compare it to is that dramatic moment on TV when the surgeon hurts his hands, then panics because can no longer preform surgery, and their life is ruined... Sounds far fetched, never gonna happen to you because you're not a surgeon, right?? Wrong I realized. Odds are very high that your entirely livelihood will be tied to your ability to type on a keyboard (I happened to be an engineer).

When this happened to me, it was a pretty dark moment. I realized the entire future I had been studying for and dreaming about was in jeopardy, because I couldn't use such a simple thing as a damn keyboard. You never want to be confronted with a RSI (repetitive stress injury).

After taking a month off to let my hands recover a bit, I started doing 1 hour of PT a day. I was sort of back to normal in about 6 months, then got lazy and had a relapse a year ago.

It was then I realized the common denominator in the problem (minus being on the computer and internet way too long), was my laptop.

So I started working on a device to fix how bad laptops are for your posture, which directly leads to the RSI issues. While working on it, 2 out of my 4 roommates came down with hand/wrist issues, 1 of them worse than my condition, he was also 26. This galvanized me, so I threw all the money I had and my nights and weekends, into trying to build a solution.

The Roost is the result, and it is my attempt to pay it forward to try to help anyone who is facing this challenge. I launched kickstarter last night to try to make it a reality. The response has been overwhelming so far. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/86285180/the-roost-saving-your-neck-and-back-from-your-lapt

Ask me anything about the RSI and typing issues, the Roost, the kickstarter process.

Keep yourself healthy, best, James

edit: proof: http://imgur.com/haZlrZZ

Comments: 238 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

TheRufmeisterGeneral61 karma

Get a proper desk and a proper computer.

Using a laptop for extended work is bad. Always has been. If your employer is making you use a laptop for hours in a row during a normal work day (i.e. not while visiting some on-site location or while on the road), they should provide you with a proper monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Also, make sure your desk is suitable for computer use. Low desks (that are close to knee height) are not suitable for computer use. The keyboard will be too low, the monitor will be too low. It sucks.

I find it hilarious that MacBook hipsters are now figuring out what offices have known (and have practiced) for half a century.

tl;dr apparently, MacBook hipsters have discovered that ignoring ergonomics in favour of shininess is bad for you. See picture on Wikipedia for more info

EDIT: apparently, ergonomics in relation to typing/computer use has been known for about half a century.

roostin44 karma

Hi, thank you for taking a look at the Roost!

You nailed it, laptops are bad for extended work. Which combined with the huge increase in laptop popularity in the last 5 years, has caught a lot of people off guard. And increased awareness is always good!

The Roost provides a great, ergonomic desktop replacement for those that can't afford an external monitor with their laptop.

TheRufmeisterGeneral33 karma

You responded politely to my slightly douchy comment. Now I feel bad. Sorry for ridiculing your project.

Seriously though, people who can't afford a separate monitor are better off stacking a few old books to put the laptop on.

It would be nice if the focus of the roost page would be a tad more along the lines of "this is why our product is better than other ergonomic stands" instead of "hey, have you heard that typing at a laptop at a low desk all day can be bad for you?" That was my main gripe.

I'm sure there's a market though for durable, bendable, light-weight laptop stands like this though. If only there was a way to easily identify people who are more than willing to fork over $60+ for a laptop accessory ;-)

roostin10 karma

Absolutely no worries, it's early on a Monday!

I think it is an awareness problem, I had no idea what "ergonomics" meant, it's not the hippest word on the street.

If someone had come out and said, "Don't hunch over your laptop all day", I know I would have perked up much sooner.

TheRufmeisterGeneral8 karma

Didn't you get this taught in school somewhere? In Holland, somewhere in between sexual education and learning about the various religions, we were taught stuff like this.

Also, if this happens in a company, and you get RSI from shitty office furniture in combination with using mobile devices (such as laptops) in stead of normal office devices, wouldn't you be able to sue the office/company for your injury? In most other anglolingual countries (e.g. the UK and Australia) I'm sure this falls under "health and safety."

In the meantime though, yes, I'm a fan of people being aware of ergonomics.

roostin4 karma

Honestly, first time I heard of this was when working for a huge company that had its own ergonomics department. (They would come around and scope out your workstation). And of course I didn't pay too much attention to it at the time, I was just out of college and thought it was something for the old folks I worked with.

I will never knock a company for providing an ergonomics department, but I would not be surprised if their reason to have the department was because it was simply cheaper than paying for employees to take time off and have surgery. So ergonomics made more sense to the bottom line. Companies now do the same thing with monetary rewards for not smoking, exercising, etc.

metroidfan22010 karma

External monitors have never been cheaper, and the trend is only continuing. I can't imagine your product costing much less. Also, you may want to use it with something other than the Apple issued bluetooth keyboard, which is ergonomically almost as bad as a laptop.

roostin5 karma

Agree with you on the apple keyboard. The tilt is not great. I prefer to use the amazonbasics kindle keyboard. It is totally flat, and easily tilted away from you for a better alignment.

Chreiya19 karma

Reading this kind of made me just stop and look at my hands for a few moments... they hurt pretty bad after the day is over, and they hurt a bit while typing.

Sadly I don't use a laptop... I'm just on the computer too much since there's nothing really better to do. I probably have carpal tunnel already, and I'm 22.

Sigh.


I guess my question is, how often were you on the computer? Amount of hours?

roostin9 karma

Chreiya, it is never too late to do something about it, and the bod's ability to heal is amazing.

I thought I was cooked, went in for a "nerve conduction test" (think electrified needles doing a bandwidth test on your nerves, highly do not recommend), and my nerves were working well, but very upset at me. The continued typing causes the muscles in the hands/arms to lock up, which aggravates everything else. Go see a doc or physical therapist, there is a great regiment of stretches that can get things in check.

drplump3 karma

Do you have a link explaining the stretches?

LordArgon8 karma

You can do a little googling and you'll find some stuff. RSI is poorly understood, though, so you'll probably find different recommendations based on different symptoms. Try different things and see what works for you.

The best think you can do, though, is a see a physical therapist who has a history of helping people work through these issues.

roostin2 karma

This. It is hard to recommend any stretches since the applicability varies so much. If you can find a "Certified Hand Therapist" or CHT, this is exactly the thing they specialize in.

forgetfulgoldfish1 karma

I guess my question is, how often were you on the computer? Amount of hours?

roostin2 karma

Good question, standard 40 hours a week at work, then browsing reddit, home email, fb, for probably another good 20 hours a week. Add in another 5 hours on iphone through out week. So maybe 65 hours. I have to think this is becoming pretty common. Throw in a MMORPG, many hit 100 hours easily.

scotthoffman197716 karma

I work in the Facilities Planning & Design field and ergonomics play an ever-growing role in the spaces we build and the products we buy. There are already several products on the market similar to your design, but I hope that doesn't discourage you to proceed with The Roost!

Herman Miller's Lapjack: http://store.hermanmiller.com/Products/Lapjack-Portable-Laptop-Holder

Humanscale's laptop holder: http://www.humanscale.com/products/LaptopHolderBenefits.cfm

roostin23 karma

Thank you for taking a look! Those are good products, anything people can use will help.

I tried all sorts of portable solutions before working on the Roost, I found I never traveled with them because they were too bulky or heavy, which defeated the point. The Roost is 5oz, and takes up hardly any room in the bag, which was the tipping point for me to actually use the device. I also found those stands didn't get the laptop screen high enough, and that it was critical to use an external keyboard to achieve proper separation between keyboard and monitor.

akira_fmx8 karma

The problem is not only in the monitor, its the flat keyboard itself. I recommend gold touch split keyboard. Its a little bit weird in the beginning but you get used to it.

roostin5 karma

Yes. This keyboard is on my desk at home. I keep the two sides about 6 inches apart, this is enough to eliminate the tiny amount of effort required to bring your arms into the center of your body, which was causing my pectoralis muscles to cramp... thereby putting extra force on the nerves that run through your armpit... leading to the hand pain.

ZacharyRD4 karma

Can either of you compare the Gold Split Touch Keyboard to the Kinesis Freestyle http://www.amazon.com/Kinesis-Corporation-KB800PB-US-Freestyle2-Separation/dp/B0089ZSEMO which I have now? Thanks.

roostin1 karma

I have the Freestyle 2 as well... I think I could outfit an whole office with ergo gear...

Both are great, tho to get the freestyle to have the opposing tilt, I am pretty sure you have to buy another $40 accessory.

Complaint with the kinesis is that the two sides tend to walk around a bit on my desk.

So maybe a wash between the two?

youmakekittymad7 karma

I, for one, think this thing is great. The compactness and extreme portability make it really attractive. Congratulations on already making your KS goal on the second day!

roostin2 karma

Thank you! The support has been absolutely unbelievable!

nailPuppy7 karma

[deleted]

roostin6 karma

Don't need explanations, only want to take notes.

FortunateBum4 karma

I will always and forever be amazed at people who try to do "serious" work on a laptop.

roostin6 karma

The crazy amount of performance packed into laptops these days has completely changed the paradigm for how a lot of people work. Now people have the freedom to do serious work (graphic processing, video work, etc) wherever they want.

baggydog3 karma

Just to add to the topic: If you are experiencing ANY pain in your arms (hands, wrists, elbow, and shoulders) or you wake up with numbness then you should see a Hand Surgeon for an evaluation. Do not see just a regular orthopedic surgeon. They will not have the specialty training that a Hand Surgeon will have. If they recommend surgery for a carpal tunnel release or therapy then make certain that they refer you a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) and not just a regular Physical Therapist (PT). The CHT’s are typically Occupational Therapists that have specialty training and focus their practice solely on hand rehab. That is not to say that a PT can’t also be a CHT but this is typically not the case. Just make certain that you are being seen by specialists in upper extremity issues!

roostin1 karma

This is the route I went.

I will say this, and I believe it very strongly, surgery should be your very last resort, only after you have 100% committed to all other forms of rehab, and they have 100% failed you.

I say this because the first doc I went to started talking about surgery options within 5 minutes of the visit. I went to another doc, and he said, "absolutely no way, you are 26, young and healthy, you just need to treat this like an injury and help your body to fix itself". And everyone I saw after that said the same thing as the second doc.

Always get a second option.

baggydog2 karma

My wife is a CHT and has worked for docs that are surgery focused. There is too much $ in surgery. Add in uninformed patients that want a quick fix and you get a lot of unnecessary cutting.

I like your stand. Wish I had it when I was a road warrior. This is what I used to lug around:

http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Alto-Cordless-Notebook-Stand/dp/B000RZRXYE

roostin2 karma

That certainly seems like the reality with the amount of money to be made in surgery.

Nice on the Alto, that was one of the first ones I looked at, but was quite weary of the "lugging" requirement!

danimaltime1 karma

Who is your doctor?! I'm in the same boat, no way im goign under the knife.

roostin1 karma

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bob White is who I saw, he is amazing.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/white-robert-d-pt-cht-palo-alto

forsan_et_haec3 karma

How common is this problem really? I use my laptop for hours on end, and I've never had any pain or anything. I have never known anyone with any trouble like this.

roostin2 karma

I didn't have any pain/problems until I was ~23. I ignored it for 3 years until wham. Now that I am aware of it, I would estimate 1/4 of the people I have worked with have had some degree of issue with it. And there is probably another 1/4 that willfully ignore it (like I did!)

bologna4203 karma

This is wonderful that you've worked to solve this problem. I'm in marketing and graphic design and am on the computer all day. I'm 24-years-old and haven't felt any wrist pain yet, but I'm still young and expect to feel that in the future. I'll look into these as a preventative measure. Thank you for the post!

roostin1 karma

Doing something about it early beats the hell out of the rehab! Good on your for keeping an eye on it. Best of luck on the marketing and graphic design path!

wrongtree2 karma

This solves only part of the problem. A bigger issue is the angle of your wrists while typing on the keyboard. Most separate keyboards are tilted toward the user, which requires constant tension in your wrists to keep your hands positioned properly. Your keyboard should be tilted away from you; your wrists should be resting on a pad and your hands should be allowed to droop naturally over the keyboard.

Arguably, by forcing people to use a separate improperly tilted keyboard, you're exacerbating the problem.

roostin0 karma

Thank you for checking out the Roost.

Proper keyboard placement is critical, and with an external, separate keyboard, you now have options. I used this goldtouch for a while, and it worked great: http://ergonomicinfo.com/reviews/goldtouch-go-keyboard-review/

It is also very easy to prop up this AmazonBasic Kindle keyboard, could do it with a few sugar packets at the coffeeshop.

vaelon2 karma

How does looking at a laptop screen higher up keep you from having problems with your wrists/hands/forearms?

The people on this kickstarter video are using a keyboard on a desk like a regular computer user does but they are just looking a little higher up at a screen on a stand. Explain

roostin1 karma

That is the solution, the less you hunch at a laptop, and the more you can sit in a tall neutral position like a desktop, is what we are aiming for. For the pathology, I posted this above:

The doc correctly identified that the problem started at the base of my neck where the nerves exit the spine: http://neoneocon.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ulnar.jpg By hunching forward, I was constricting the nerve channel, which aggravates the nerves all the way down to the hands, call referral pain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referred_pain Per my doc, this is the most common "mode" of causing injury, and often carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel is misdiagnosis because the problem is starting all the way back up at the neck, not in the hands/wrists where you feel the pain. The Roost solves this by forcing your posture to a tall, neutral position, where the nerve pathways have least chance of being stressed. Proper posture goes a very long way. edit: this is also why people find great results with standing desks.

vaelon1 karma

I see. I didn't realize that people actually have problems like this. I've been using a computer for 21 years and have never had any issues. Do you know why this would not effect everybody? Thank you for the response. I was quite curious.

roostin1 karma

I asked this very same question to the doc. His answer was that we humans evolved to run, throw rocks, big movements, not sit down at a computer and type all day. So I was over using those typing muscles and wearing out the nerves doing an activity my body was not particularly well adapted to do. I didn't do the things (good posture, proper ergonomics) required to minimize the chance of my body seizing up, and so then it did.

SteroidSandwich2 karma

Interesting... What did doctors say happened? It sounds like either a bad case of carpal tunnel or your damaged the tenants in your hands

roostin3 karma

The doc correctly identified that the problem started at the base of my neck where the nerves exit the spine: http://neoneocon.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/ulnar.jpg

By hunching forward, I was constricting the nerve channel, which aggravates the nerves all the way down to the hands, call referral pain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referred_pain

Per my doc, this is the most common "mode" of causing injury, and often carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel is misdiagnosis because the problem is starting all the way back up at the neck, not in the hands/wrists where you feel the pain.

The Roost solves this by forcing your posture to a tall, neutral position, where the nerve pathways have least chance of being stressed. Proper posture goes a very long way.

edit: this is also why people find great results with standing desks.

ElectricSpoon752 karma

As a former safety and risk management guy, there are tons of ergonomic friendly PC accessories already out there, but i wish you luck in your endeavor.

roostin1 karma

Thank you! Getting people thinking about these issues is imperative.

teflange2 karma

Been touch-typing and sitting behind a computer for most of the past 25 years (not counting sleep:)...there's no magic bullet for RSI. I've tried correct posture, wrist alignment, dvorak, stretching, ambidextrous mousing, trackballs, touchpads, etc., and I still get really bad RSI from time to time.

Best thing I've found is when I start feeling pain in a wrist or hand I change things up - switch mouse hands, go from laptop to desktop (or vice versa), use a different keyboard. If you can take a break for a couple of days (and avoid going back to the same motion that caused the problem) that can help a lot.

roostin1 karma

Agreed. I still have problems, and I still worry that at some point I wont be able to put in 40 hours a week on a keyboard. I've been able to manage the last year by being very conscientious of staying under 40 hours of typing. Like clockwork, if I go over, the hands start to act up. Rest is critical.

MisterP582 karma

I've been looking for something like this for a long time: http://imgur.com/a/bkE2U (The Roost for Books / Notebooks)

I want to prop up textbooks while working at my computer.

However, $60 for a bookstand is bit on the high side, and I have a desktop, not a laptop. And textbooks can get heavy, but I doubt I'll ever run into a 200-pound book.

On the other hand, the collapsible feature is appealing for storage. I would be interested in a cheaper version of the Roost that might not be made of such strong materials, but is meant only to hold books.

Just thought I'd mention it, if you ever saw the demand.

I know, just like how redditors pointed out other notebook stand options, there are options for books. But they are either like this (not cheap, sturdy, but take up a lot of desk space): http://www.amazon.com/Book-Stand-Bookstand-Bookstands-Holder/dp/B001J9SFXK or like this (cheap, collapsible and look like they can't hold shit): http://www.amazon.com/Fellowes-Wire-Study-Stand-Silver-10024/dp/B00006B8HT/ref=pd_sim_op_1

roostin1 karma

Duly noted, thank you, that is a helpful summary of the challenges with the current solutions.

Where do you think right price would be for that device? Would some page-holding method be required? Other features?

Superpowers8102 karma

Hey

Keyboard wrist rests are bad right?

roostin2 karma

The key is to not have your wrists cranked up or down: http://www.daskeyboard.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/keyboard_posture.jpg

From what I've been told on the wrist pads, they are only bad if you are resting your wrists on them, like putting all of your arm weight on the wrist.

The wrist pad should be used as a physical reminder, barely touching your wrists. So in that picture above, imagine a wrist pad about 1.5" tall that is just touching the bottom of the wrists. I use two wrist pads stacked on top of eachother to achieve the correct height.

inspectorG4dget2 karma

I like the solution. I have dealt with a lot of back and neck problems myself, from the exact posture problem that you address (I made some adjustments for myself to combat these).

What are your thoughts on any issues that one might face, given the high electrical conductivity of carbon fiber?

Also, have you seen what this programmer did when he became unable to use his hands thanks to RSI?

roostin2 karma

Thank you for checking out the Roost.

The carbon fiber is an electrical insulator. I'm using a spray-on ceramic paint that is then baked instead of powder coating because of it's non-conductive properties (powder coating is applied by attracting charged paint particles to an oppositely charged object).

Very innovative approach with python, that is awesome!

millerlit1 karma

Can you or anyone recommend a mouse for people that have wrist problems?

roostin1 karma

Without a doubt: Evoluent Vertical Mouse http://www.amazon.com/Evoluent-VerticalMouse-Regular-Right-VM4R/dp/B00427TAIK

For an experiment, holding your arm out, rotate your hand/wrist to its normal mousing position, and notice how your muscles have to work to maintain this position. This is the definition of "Repetitive Stress". A vertical mouse helps to minimize that motion by keeping your hand in a more neutral vertical position.

squatly1 karma

I have removed this AMA until some proof is provided. Thanks.

roostin2 karma

Hi, proof here: http://imgur.com/haZlrZZ

Updated post.

Mooskies901 karma

I get pains in my hands when I play video games for about an hour, then I have to stop for a long time. It feels like the muscle is stinging. I also wake up at times because my hand has fallen asleep. I also about one a month get a shooting pain down into my hand, which causes me to drop anything I am holding.

I guess all these added up, means I should go and get it checked out then.

roostin2 karma

Mooskies90, this is exactly how mine started. What's happening is you are taxing your muscles/nerves too much, and then at night, you are sleeping so that your elbow is bent. This literally "kinks the hose" of your nerves, and they don't get a chance to recover. This is why I was perscribed this sweet looking device: http://imgur.com/haZlrZZ

it forces you to not bend your elbow at night and gives the nerves a chance recover. I was in this thing for about a month. You can make your own with a towel. More info: http://www.eatonhand.com/hw/hw007.htm

deathandsandwiches1 karma

Why is it called the Roost?

roostin3 karma

My mom came up with the name, the stand puts the laptop up on a "Roost" (thanks ma!). Also, its here your laptop goes home to Roost!

Imoossibru_Truth1 karma

Another thing to look out for is what you do with your elbows. I usually rest mine on the desk / armrest (which is hard) and am now getting constant numbness in my pinky because the nerve for that area goes around the outside of your elbow (ulner nerve if you want to look up exercises, techniques etc to help with this).

roostin0 karma

This!!

My unlar nerve (what you zing when you hit your funny bone) is what did me in. I removed the armrests on my chair, was an instant improvement.

danimaltime1 karma

What type of symptoms did you have??

roostin1 karma

Nerca1 karma

Oh fuck, I just read this and I have had constant pain in my right wrist for 2 months now.

I should get it checked.

roostin1 karma

Definitely get it looked at.

In the mean time, try to pinpoint exactly what it is you do at your desk that causes things to hurt. The doc will want to know this, and can rapidly help you get to the source of the problem faster.

Things that got me (yours may be totally different tho, I'm no doctor):

  • Working too long without rests / streching
  • Resting elbows on arm chair, put pressure on ulnar nerve http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulnar_nerve
  • Hunching over
  • Reaching too far to my right to reach the mouse.
  • Using a regular mouse (I since switched to a vertical mouse, the Evoluent Vertical Mouse is great)

Nerca1 karma

i wonder how far is too far right for mouse

I have my hand in about 30 degree angle.

roostin2 karma

I had to kill number pad, it really puts the right hand way out there. (Which the keypad-only keyboards work great for)

And then I keep my mouse as close to the keyboard as possible. All the little things add up.

steeb2er1 karma

Very cool project. Best of luck with it!

Would the Roost work on an angled (10-15 degrees) surface, or only flat surfaces? I know my particular use is an anomaly, but hopefully Roost is a bit flexible.

roostin2 karma

I think it will, and there are rubber grips that will prevent it from sliding. Thank you for checking out!

McWut1 karma

My friend is partially paralyzed on his wrist/hand because of this. We know it's not carpian tunnel. He has appointments to a neurologist coming up. Do you have any advice for him?

roostin2 karma

Wow wow, I wish him the best.

When mine was at it's worst, it was imperative I stopped doing the activity that cause the pain/symptoms. So I took a month off from using a computer all together. Zero computer use.

I also noticed that using my iphone was indirectly affecting me as well. So I cut that off too. (I now carry a flip phone so I can't mindlessly surf internet with my thumbs on an iPhone).

Another thing, if he is waking up in the morning with numbness, he sleeping with his elbow bent, or something is happening. When this happens at night, your nerves don't get a chance to recover. That is why I was perscribed this: http://imgur.com/haZlrZZ

Also, ask friends, coworkers, anyone in your area for a good certified hand therapist.

Hope this can help your friend.

drunken_trophy_wife-1 karma

This is at least the second time OP has used Reddit to attempt a viral marketing campaign. (The other one was on /r/battlestations). And Reddit upvotes this shit!

roostin2 karma

I did post a picture of me using the Roost. I also mentioned that I was starting a kickstarter to make this product a reality, this was downvoted until hidden. I thought r/battlestations would like the Roost.