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Rheumatoid arthritis doesn't hinder computing skills
Date:1/27/2010

A recent study by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were comparable to non-impaired individuals in keyboarding speed. Individuals who were trained in touch typing demonstrated faster typing speeds than those using a visually-guided ("hunt and peck") method, regardless of impairment. Researchers also noted slightly impaired mouse skills in workers with RA. Results of this study appear in the February issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the number of workers using computers increased from 46% in 1993 to 56% in 2003 with figures expected to continue climbing higher. For workers with RA the capacity to use computers may be limited by impairment in hand range of motion (ROM) and strength caused by inflammation of their joints due to the disease. Prior studies have shown that workers with RA have higher rates of work disability, premature work cessation, and reduced hours on the job.

"With more arthritic workers using computers, understanding the associations between hand function impairment and peripheral device (keyboard and mouse) limitations is essential and the focus of our current study," said lead author Nancy Baker, Sc.D., MPH, OTR/L. Researchers recruited 45 participants from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Arthritis Network Registry for the study. Those subjects enrolled had an average age of 55, were primarily white females, and had RA for 17 years. Half of all participants worked full or part-time, with 100% of this group using computers at work.

Hand function was assessed using the Keitel Hand Function Index (KHFI) and the Arthritis Hand Function Test (AHFT). The KHFI included 11 performance test items to measure active ROM of the thumb, fingers, writs, forearms and elbows. The AHFT consisted of 10 test
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Contact: Dawn Peters
medicalnews@wiley.com
781-388-8408
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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