Here at JKJ, we deal with a lot of data, and that means a lot of typing and mouse clicking. Spending a ton of time on a computer or doing the same things repetitively can lead to an RSI (repetitive strain injury) or other orthopedic issues. As a very heavy computer user, at my worst I had tendinitis (mouse elbow) in both of my elbows as well as in my right wrist (the mouse wrist). Since I couldn’t stop using a computer, I had to adjust and find other ways to control the computer while letting my body heal, and also to try to avoid future problems.
Thanks to some ideas from our loss control team, I did some research into alternative input devices, and found a host of different ways to control a PC, mostly in terms of mouse/pointer control. Let’s look at a few. (Please note that these links are not endorsements of any of these products, simply examples of what’s out there.)
- The VerticalMouse
While I haven’t tested this one extensively, the first product I found was called a VerticalMouse. This mouse is much taller than a traditional mouse and orients the buttons almost perpendicular to the desk. Doing so keeps your hand and arm at their natural sideways position and takes a lot of pressure off of your tendons. ( For more Information see: www.evoluent.com)
- Contour Rollermouse
The second device is one we use a lot here at JKJ, and that is the Contour Rollermouse. Rather than a traditional mouse you move around, this device provides a unique movement strategy of moving around a roller that rolls, slides, and clicks, so that your hands and arms aren’t constantly moving back and forth between the mouse and the keyboard. These take some getting used to, but once people do have them, they’re not letting them go! Our experience is with the Rollermouse Pro, but there are a couple other versions of it out there as well. (For more information see http://ergo.contour-design.com/)
- The third option I used a bit was a digitizer tablet and pen. This may not work for everyone, but it allowed me to do some precision mousing without a ton of movement and it took up very little space. Digital artists and engineers use these day in and day out, but I believe there may be a place for them in a typical office environment as well. (For more information see http://www.wacom.com)
Last but not least – I’m happy to report I’m tendonitis free today, no braces and brackets for this guy! What’s my secret? Ergonomics and EXERCISE. Everybody’s different, but I found that it wasn’t necessarily all about my hands, arms, or wrists, but the bigger picture – my body. My chair and monitor weren’t adjusted properly which led to poor posture and bad positioning of my arms and hands. Secondly, I found that by constantly using a computer and sitting at a desk for long periods was making all of my muscles and tendons stiff, which led to the injuries. Through the incorporation of exercises that involved a lot of movement, as well as the occasional breaks and stretching helped keep those muscles limber and so far has helped with avoiding further injury. Again, everybody’s different, but this is what worked for me!
Last but not least, our loss control team can help you with ergonomics issues and proper workstation setup – check with your representative for more info!
Author: Jeff Golas, Network Administrator