By C.K. MacLeod
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can be caused by too much mousing. You can reduce the amount of mousing you do by using keyboard shortcuts, but sometimes it also makes sense to change the way you mouse.
My editing colleague, Adrienne Montgomerie, suggested I try mousing with my left hand. While that first day of mousing with my left hand was horribly inefficient, it did take the strain off my right hand. Sometimes, though, with the work I do, I need to be precise and controlled with my mouse movements (something my left hand cannot yet do), so I still need to use my right hand, at least some of the time.
Try New Hardware
If you change your hardware, you can change your hand position. So I set off in search of a different kind of mouse, and discovered the Genius Pen Mouse. It's not a traditional mouse—the kind you palm—but it's one you hold like a pen.
I'll admit it, I had some reservations about switching my mouse. Could my fingers and brain adapt? The reviews of the Genius Pen Mouse were mixed, and I wondered if I'd be bothered by having to put down and pick up my mouse each time I wanted to use it. For $40 (and prompted by my throbbing wrist), I decided to give it a try.
When the pen mouse arrived (start viewing this video at the three-minute mark), it took me about ten minutes to set it up and learn how to use it.The instructions were clear and to the point, and the onscreen prompts were helpful.
It took a bit more time to get my fingers to coordinate the movements for right-clicking and scrolling (left-click is a breeze), and after two days of practice, I'm still developing the finger dexterity required to master the right-click. (If you've studied piano, you'll know what it's like to develop finger dexterity for specific movements). But I'm of the opinion that anything worth learning takes a bit of time and commitment.
Tip: Still can't master that right click? Another way to right click is to hold down the Ctrl key while you execute a single click.
Oh... and picking up and putting down the mouse didn't bother me at all.
My overall impressions? The Genius Pen Mouse is surprisingly precise and easy to control. I think it'll be particularly helpful for proofreaders who do PDF mark-ups because you have more control with it than a traditional mouse. It appears to be sturdy, and the price is fair.
In terms of helping with repetitive strain injury: changing hand positions is always a good idea. There's no doubt that I could develop hand strain with this mouse, too, but if I switch between my right and left hand (you can do this with the pen mouse), and switch my hardware to mix things up, I have yet another strategy for reducing hand and wrist strain.
Have you tried something other than a traditional mouse?