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VelocityEHS’ Kent Hatcher explains various types of computer mice and when it’s appropriate to use each one.

Video Transcript

Hi. My name is Kent Hatcher, and I’m a certified professional ergonomist here at Humantech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics). I’m here today to talk about something that every single one of us touches or interacts with on a daily basis, but perhaps we don’t give it the thought or consideration that it deserves, the computer mouse. Now, there are so many different kinds of computer mice out there. How do you know which one you should recommend and when? Well, what I’m going to do is to take a few examples and to tell you.

Now, let’s start with the traditional mouse. This is the one that comes to everyone’s mind when you hear the words “computer mouse.” Why is that? Well, it was the first. Now, what I’ve got here is a standard inexpensive traditional mouse that’s corded. Where it’s appropriate to recommend this mouse is usually out on the shop floor, at a line side computer workstation, where you’re entering in data on an infrequent basis.

The reason for that is number one it’s cheap, and so if it gets dirty or damaged it’s very, very easy to replace. The other thing is it’s corded, so it’s less likely to “walk away” as some of the cordless mice are. However, on a daily, constant use basis as a professional ergonomist, I would never recommend this as your first choice because to use the traditional mouse your wrist goes into a static extension, a static extension that is usually combined with these little, tiny ulnar and radial deviations, causing increased stress on the tendons and structures of the wrist. Combined with the fact that there’s usually a contact stress on the underside of the wrist which may irritate nerves and tendons. So, we wouldn’t typically recommend this for constant traditional office use.

For those of you that travel, the touchpad or trackpad on the laptop is never recommended for constant primary use. You should always have some sort of peripheral mouse to use with your laptop. Now, what you see here is a travel mouse or a laptop mouse. You’ll notice that it looks very similar to the traditional mouse except that it’s cordless, and it’s much smaller. The advantages here is that it’s portable and cheap. Now, the reason that we can recommend this is because, again, when you’re traveling it’s typically only for short-term use.

If you’re using a laptop as your primary machine, then you shouldn’t have a mouse like this as your sole mouse. You should have a larger, more ergonomic mouse. Next, trackball styles. There are several different trackball styles, some of them utilize the fingers. This one I’m showing here utilizes the thumb. Where this is recommended is for those people that are experiencing wrist discomfort already. This keeps the wrist neutral and static, keeps the elbow and shoulders in neutral posture, and so the cursor direction and location is controlled by manipulating the thumb.

Be warned, however, those people that have a predisposition or existing thumb discomfort, of course, may find this particular mouse irritating. The vertical mouse is the next one I want to talk about, and if I had to tell you that one mouse that we recommend more than anything else, it would be a mouse similar in shape and concept to this. The reason for that is it keeps the wrist in a neutral position like the handshake position, the shoulder, and the elbow and the wrist are all neutral. There’s no contact stress on the underside of the wrist, so therefore, there’s no unnecessary irritation of nerves and tendons.

The vertical mouse, if we had to recommend one, is the number one style that we would recommend.

Finally, I wanted to show you an example of an alternative mouse. Here’s the contour. Now, what the contour does is it replaces the mouse all together with a slide bar. Where you would recommend this is when you have someone that experiences discomfort from moving their arms away from their body, perhaps, they’ve had a shoulder surgery or something of the sort. What this does is it fits right in front of the keyboard, so as a person’s typing to activate the mouse all they do is, keep their arms and wrists in the same plane and just come and move the cursor this way by rolling back-and-forth and side-to-side. And in fact, to activate the buttons on the mouse you just have to press down or utilize these buttons here.

So, these are five different styles of mice, each with their pros and cons. I hope that you found this helpful, in terms of making your decision on what you’re going to recommend for your employees. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you next time.