Martin Abrahams Team : Web Development

One armed development

Martin Abrahams Team : Web Development

I've always joked with motorcycle racing mates that I'm lucky that in my job as a web developer, I could still work even if I was half dead since it's "just sitting at a desk". Six weeks ago I got to put this to the test when I crashed my supermoto bike on the track, shattering my shoulder on impact. I experienced my first ride in an ambulance, first time in hospital since I was born and first operation. I was out of hospital within a couple of days of the crash with a freshly bolted together humerus bone and my arm in a sling.

After week or so of feeling sorry for myself watching daytime TV, it was time to go into work for limited hours. As soon as I sat down at my desk I realised this was going to be much harder than it sounds. The first couple of days I needed to have another developer do all the typing for me in order to help me get my projects back on track after my absence from work. Pair programming is actually fun in a way but obviously not so economic for day to day tasks. After we got the critical work out of the way I started out trying to go at it on my own. Here's some of the challenges which I encountered.

Inverted mouse

Training yourself to use the mouse with your other hand is quite tricky, the dexterity just isn't there. Even though I grew up using the mouse with my left hand I have been using my right hand for the last ~17 years. After about a week it felt natural again.

One handed typing

It feels hilarious pecking away at the keyboard one handed like a stereotypical computer illiterate grandparent. Again after around a week I've managed to find a fluent way to type one handed.

Taking the long way around

In development a huge part of our productivity comes through the heavy use of keyboard shortcuts to bypass clicking through menus and reduce the need for the mouse. In many cases the shortcuts are physically impossible to do one handed. So it's back to relying on using the mouse (with the wrong hand) to execute lots of commands that are taken for granted usually.


In the scheme of things, my injuries are quite minor but I've still found them to be a major setback day to day and at work. The entire process has given me new appreciation for being a desk jockey, it's not as easy as it might seem! Working for a great company makes the process of rehabilitating back into work alot easier, I can't stress that enough.