Surviving your computer part 4: the mouse


This week I want to deviate a bit from the neck and shoulder impact of computer work to move a few inches laterally to the shoulder and the rest of the upper extremity. The incidence of upper extremity repetitive use disorders is quite high among computer users. There are some user "technique" issues to account for that: most people need to actively be reminded of how to position their shoulders in a posterior relaxed position and keep their arm close to their trunk to avoid constantly using their arm while reaching forward or to the side. This can be tough especially when you get a bit stressed out about your work and you tend to assume a "defensive" posture hunched over.  Other considerations are more ergonomic in nature and once again come back to having the right equipment for the task. A standard mouse requires a lot of horizontal moving on a flat surface and thus tends to keep your arm in flexion and abduction most of the time.


There are a variety of mouse options ( can we say "mice" in this context ???). There is some user preference is chosing the right one for you. I don't use my computer mouse a lot, but if I had to upgrade I would personally lean toward a vertical mouse, which virtually eliminates side movement of the arm. The downfall is that is takes a longer learning curve than hybrid sloped mouse ( #1 in this article). If you have kids at home learning to use a computer, get them started on a vertical mouse right away. The other slight downfall is that of all the computer retrofits I have mentioned so far, ergo mouse options are the pricier, but still cheaper than seeking care for an injury after the fact.

Another often forgotten strategy to minimize mouse use is to use the Windows keys on the top of your keyboard. One key will replace several clicks and drags for a lot of common functions like undo, copy and past etc... In the next few years, I anticipate that voice recognition will even further decrease mouse use by replacing them with voice commands. It will turn doing your work in a coffee shop into a new and interesting, and very chatty experience