Typing comes back fast after carpal tunnel surgery

(Credit: Getty Images)

Patients who undergo surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome can regain their typing ability within two or three weeks after the operation.

The research project got its start in 2009 when Gordon Logan, professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, broke his shoulder.

“I had to have my shoulder replaced,” says Logan, who studies the automatic response patterns involved in typing. “So I saw my orthopedic surgeon, Donald Lee, many times in the next few months.”

During their meetings, the conversation often turned to research. “He was focused on practical questions and wondered why anyone would ask the abstract theoretical questions that I do,” Logan says. “I managed to convince him that typing was an important practical problem.”

Lee, a professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is an expert on hand and shoulder surgery.

As a result of their discussions, Lee and Logan designed an experiment to assess how quickly patients regain their typing speed after undergoing carpal tunnel release surgery.

“We found that people recovered their pre-operative typing speed two to three weeks after surgery,” Logan says. “This provides a benchmark for recovery that prospective patients can consider in deciding whether to have surgery or when to have it.”

“Since we found that patients regain their typing ability relatively quickly, we now allow them to go back to typing relatively early,” says Lee. “They may not be able to type for several hours at a time, but we don’t necessarily restrict them from typing around two to three weeks post op.”

Orthopedic resident Justin Zumsteg, now at the Orlando Health Orthopedic Institute, performed the research. The results appear in the Journal of Hand Surgery.

Source: Vanderbilt University