I’ve had a rather unpleasant history with mouse use, culminating in the inability to use a bog standard mouse with either hand for more than 2-3 minutes before the onset of severe pain. This reaction has built up over many years of mouse (ab)usage, and I have a certain loathing for the devices now. It has to be said that many of the cheaper mice (normally the ones shipped by certain PC manufacturers) are some of the most unergonomic pieces of equipment available. Computer manufacturers have a lot to answer for having shipped us less than ergonomic mice with their computers for the last 20 years. Quite often an end user does not experience any other type of mouse apart from the one that ships with their computer system. Whilst these mice are designed with aesthetically pleasing features, their ergonomic qualities leave a lot to be desired. This can of course be tolerable if the user seldom uses the computer, but if they do use it a lot then it can ultimately lead to the onset of RSI type symptoms.
Having seen what manufacturers ship with their systems, I would be a proponent of legislation to ensure that the basic minimum mouse is an ergonomic one. By ‘ergonomic’ I mean that it meets certain standards with respect to shape (comfort to hold on to), button (click) pressure, and optionally be available in different sizes to accommodate different hand sizes. Unfortunately, in the cut-throat cost driven PC market these days, this is unlikely to happen without legislation.
Some tips I have learned over the years regarding mouse use is as follows –
- Try changing hands when using the mouse. Do it frequently (eg once an hour) in order to rest the other hand. Have a second mouse installed at the left hand side of the keyboard (if you can’t be bothered moving the original one)
- Consider having 2-3 different styles of mice, and use each style for 1/3 of the day. This will change the motion of the fingers/hands to something different, and may help to break the cycle of repetitive motion associated with using a single mouse.
- If you are having RSI symptoms already in your mouse hand, try obtaining 2-4 different styles of special ergonomic mice or alternative input devices and cycle through them for 1/4 of a working day at a time. Try to ensure that each mouse/input device operates differently especially the clicking motion. eg. 1 input device std right hand forefinger click, 1 input device right hand thumb click, 1 input device left hand forefinger click, 1 device left hand thumb click.
This variety will maximise the resting time from the motion that is causing your specific RSI problem. If in doubt about input device choice, consult an ergonomist.
- Consider trying out an alternative input device(s) entirely eg. graphics tablet, tablet PC, Contour Roller mouse, touch screen monitors , or the use of one of these with a standard ergonomic mouse. Alternatively you can wait for future developments in technology like the microsoft surface or the 3d motion sensor camera by 3DV Systems which I’d like to try out, although it remains to be seen whether such a device will be purely aimed at the gaming market as opposed to the general PC market
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