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Top Tips for Choosing the Right Mouse

Thursday, January 28, 2010
By Anne Kramer

The prevalence of computers in the workplace means that employees spend a significant amount of time using a mouse and keyboard. And now that more employees telecommute and travel on the job, laptop use has grown as well. As a result, repetitive stress injuries (RSI) like carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger have grown more common.

A leading cause of these injuries is the traditional mouse, which encourages unbalanced use of the body and requires overextension of the arm and shoulder. Replacing the traditional mouse with an ergonomic model can reduce the occurrence of RSI in the hand and wrist.

Ergonomic Alternatives

Rather than using the standard mouse that comes with a computer, employees can easily plug in an ergonomic mouse such as the HandShoe Mouse. These models are contoured to fit the hand, are available in small, medium and large and in a wired or wireless version. Ergonomic mice are an excellent preventative for repetitive stress. However, for employees who already suffer from symptoms of carpal tunnel or trigger finger, other devices are available:

  • Touchpads: Common on laptops, touchpads can also be attached to desktop computers. Placed directly in front of the monitor or keyboard, touchpads operate in response to finger drags and taps on the surface. Touchpads are easy to use with either hand and eliminate reaching to one side. Because they require little pressure to operate and reduce movement of the shoulder and elbow, touchpads reduce RSI in the entire arm.
  • Trackballs: Trackballs are another healthy alternative. Like touchpads, they can be placed at the center of the body or on either side. Users navigate a trackball with the palm of the hand, reducing strain on the wrists and fingers. Ideal for users who experience shoulder pain, trackballs have programmable buttons that can be customized for each user’s specific needs. These lesser-known devices operate much like a traditional mouse, so users generally have little trouble adapting to trackballs.
  • Footswitches: For employees whose RSI are serious enough to be exacerbated by any mouse usage, a footswitch completely eliminates use of the arms and hands. A footswitch plugs in just like a standard mouse, but is placed on the floor. Each button or switch can be programmed to correspond with a traditional mouse action, or with another keyboard shortcut. Footswitches can also be used with either foot, so users need not stress only one side of the body.
  • Roller Bar Mice: Placed along the bottom of the keyboard, a Roller Bar mouse encourages ambidextrous use, because the buttons are located at the center. Because the device promotes keeping the shoulders relaxed and elbows at the sides, a Roller Bar mouse reduces stress on the arms and upper back. They also prevent neck strain from reaching and pulling.

Replacing traditional mice with ergonomic mice and mouse alternatives ultimately protects employees from myriad work-related injuries to the upper body, making the office healthier and more productive. Ergonomic mice, touchpads, trackballs, footswitches, and roller ball mice are wise investments for any business.

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