Saturday, November 08, 2008

Is Your Mouse Causing Pain and Discomfort?

Selecting the right mouse for you ...

"People who spend long hours working on the computer, are prone to various types of pains and strains. One of the areas that is hit the hardest while doing computer work is the hands and wrists. These areas are at risk for developing particular types of injury caused by the repetitive motion of the hands and fingers.

Repetitive Strain Injuries or RSI are the result of repeated physical movements. This can lead to further damage to the muscles, tendons and nerves.

RSI can result in more severe conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, trigger finger or thumb or worse still reflective sympathetic dystrophy. Such conditions, if left untreated, are liable to lead to permanent disability.

One of the culprits of RSI is the mouse or pointing device. This is because the mouse may be used repeatedly, especially in the graphic design field. It is an important discipline to remember that you should always place your mouse as close to the keyboard as possible.

You must avoid reaching or twisting your arms and wrists to use your mouse. There are a few mice that are being manufactured today that claim to help with the pain and strain of mouse use. Let's examine a few and study the pros and cons of each one.

The trackball mouse.

Pros: This mouse is operated by a ball that is located on the top of the mouse. You can move anywhere that you need to on the page by using your finger to rotate the track ball. Some designs of track ball mice allow you to use your thumb. The ease of the roller ball will decrease the strain that you can get with a traditional mouse.

Cons: It can still produce RSI in some people. The ball can become clogged with dirt and become hard to move. A quality trackball mouse will cost a lot more than a traditional mouse.

The 3M Ergonomic Mouse

Pros: This mouse is designed like a joystick and allows for reduced muscle effort, and produces less arm fatigue. It comes in two sizes and it is easy to adjust to the feel of this mouse. It has huge appeal to those that like gaming.

Cons: The fingers will be held in a bent position with this mouse as you are gripping it like a joystick. This may not be the best choice for those that are prone to trigger finger. It can also produce some swelling in the joints of the fingers. This mouse has no scrolling wheel and may not be the best choice for those that work in graphic design.

The Vertical Mouse

Pros: This mouse is designed to be used with the hand in the handshake position. This mouse is both comfortable to hold and operate as it keeps the hand in a neutral position. The button use is similar to traditional mice, so learning time is short. This mouse allows you to move the cursor across the screen with smaller movements, and so decreasing the strain on the muscles of the fingers and wrist.

Cons: This type of mouse has very rapid cursor movements. When you have an injury making it difficult for you to control cursor movements, then you may find this type of mouse unsuitable. You must have the mouse at the right height to decrease strain on the shoulder. You could struggle to find a vertical mouse for left hand use.

Summary

So let's summarize the key points we've covered in our look at mouse alternatives.

* Heavy mouse users suffering pain should change to a different pointing device
* Become aware of hand, arm and wrist movements avoid slipping into bad habits
* A Trackball may suit you better if a conventional mouse causes discomfort
* The 3M Ergonomic mouse could help relieve arm muscle pain and discomfort
* A Vertical mouse allows greater cursor travel with less body movement and keeps the hand neutral"    (Continued via Ezine Articles, Duncan Macintyre)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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2 Comments:

Anonymous David hostyk said...

Why not get rid of the mouse altogether? Try Integrated Keyboarding at:
www.inkeyboard.com
which allows you to move the mouse and the cursor, highlight, scroll, drag, number and delete without moving your hands from the homekey position.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Amy Hengst said...

My trackball mouse works great, since I have small hands. The vertical mouse is good too, for people with larger hands.

I also have a more comprehensive list ofergonomic mice on my blog that your readers may be interested in, and also a list of alternatives to the standard mouse.

Happy clicking everyone !

4:25 PM  

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