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Input Solutions for Repetitive Stress Victims? 415

simiproject asks: "I provide IT consulting for a 30-person organization. Recently, I have been trying to find an acceptable keyboard/mouse solution for a staff member who experiences sharp pains in her thumb, hand and arm when using her mouse. She had been using one of those 3M joystick mice and felt it only made her situation worse since it required even more extension of her thumb. Holding a pen or stylus won't work since that requires gripping. I switched her to a trackball mouse and that helped a little but not much. However, trying to find a solution that doesn't require using the thumb is like shopping in a bizarro world where we just didn't evolve with that opposing digit. I'd be interested in what practical input solutions Slashdot has for a computer user with limited hand mobility. Voice recognition? Laptop-like touch pads (I've looked but haven't found any)?"
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Input Solutions for Repetitive Stress Victims?

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  • by DeadMilkman ( 855027 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:50PM (#15716401) Homepage
    Same sorta thing came up with my supervisor...

    Long story short....He had to relearn how he used his mouse to avoid problems.

    It came to this because quite frankly no one designed something to suit his individual finger mobilty limit, mainly due to the fact that just about everyone in this situation is unique, each having their own limits, tonerances, and ability.
    • Sometimes that doesn't work...I've tried using a mouse on either hand, as I am abidexterous...but that only meant that I developed RSI on both wrists...I tried trackballs, and the thumb based ones made it worse...but the only solution, one that I use to this day, is the Logitech Marble's a symetrical trackball, and can be used either left handed or right handed. Ever since then, I haven't had any problems. But that's probably just me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:53PM (#15716413)
    Switch mousing hands, worked like a charm for me. While I'll never be as fast or accurate now that I'm a lefty, it's more than adequate for typical office software. I did have to give up the FPSes though.

    She could go for the reflective dot on the forhead and webcam tracking software, but this was too geeky even for me. Check her Star Trek quotient before impelmenting.
    • I was just coming here to suggest the same thing.

      I switched my mousing to my left hand a few weeks ago, and it was quite simple (much simpler than, say, switching the keyboard to dvorak, which I'm also doing). You get used to it quickly, and gain insight into the difficulties computer newbies face. Frustrated that your mom can't seem to even use the mouse? Use your mouse left-handed for a while. THAT is what it's like to be learning it for the first time.

      As for FPS, don't give up on them. ^_^ What bet
    • Yes, I switched mousing hands too, to deal with shoulder pain in my mousing arm -- I even blogged about it [] (that counts as modern because I'm over 30).

      Man was it hard though -- it took about two weeks to feel reasonably comfortable. But it really worked.

      Otherwise, how about one o' them ThinkPad keyboards [] with a little red nubby thing plus a trackpad?

    • Had shooting pains up & down my right forearm, triggered by excessive use of the trackpoint on an IBM Thinkpad 600E.

      "No Problem," I thought, "I have two index fingers. I'll just switch to using my left hand to operate the pointing device."

      Before long, I had shooting pains up & down my left forearm too. Brilliant.

      (modern osteopathic technique [] is the greatest. Pay special attention to the page on vision. See this tree of my /. comments [] too.)
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @01:21AM (#15716985) Homepage
      Use your feet to click your mouse.

      Seriously. Get a Smart Joy [] adapter and a Reload Pedal [], and remap the joystick input to mouse click... though you may have to unscrew the top and cut the spring in half for easier clicking, like I did. Alternatively, get a mouse with very large buttons, remove the trackball / tape over the sensor, and leave it on the floor as a secondary mouse. Both sets of clicks will register.

      The key to RSI, is to not find one "optimal" solution. Switch keyboards and mice throughout the day. Change your position completely. Walk over and talk to someone about a spec they had written. Put your feet up. Take your feet down. Really, the reason we get RSI is because we do one thing repeatedly. No matter how ergonomic that one sitting position or wrist angle may be, if you stay fixed in that position eventually your ligaments and joints will break down. Change position, take coffee breaks, mouse lefty for a little, turn your body to the side... anything to keep from falling into the trap of the one perfect body position.

    • I reguarly use my left arm for mousing around the GUI's when my right arm is starting to show symptoms of soreness too.

      However one question bothers me, won't at some point the left arm become just as sore? :-/

      I already noticed, when i use my left arm heavily to relieve the strain on my right arm that my left arm is showing more signs of (very light admitedly) some soreness too

    • Dasher [] is, albeit still in development, a very promising input tool for people with disabilities of varying degree, from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Quadraplegy (it has already been used to type complete BSc thesises), and it promises to soon provide a speedup in typing speed even for normal users. Check it out.

      No, I'm not affiliated with the project in any way, I only had my nose poked at it by a friend. And I must say, it's impressive. And it is FOSS.
  • Hold the stylus between 2 fingers? Tape the stylus or pen to her finger? or glue it to a glove, rubber thimble or somthing? I'm sure there are ways to attach a stylus to her hand without a requirement for constantly holding it.
  • How? (Score:5, Informative)

    by addaon ( 41825 ) <> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:55PM (#15716423)
    How did you not manage to find any laptop-like touch pads? Did it occur to you to go to this awesome new site [], type in "touch pads", and click "I'm feeling lucky"? You would have gotten here [].
  • by Meor ( 711208 )
    • Yep. The Vertical Mouse is wonderful. I'd also recommend one of these: []. It's also very important to make sure they're at the right height. Having your keyboard/mouse too high (as most desks are) leads to wrist problems fast. For me, this meant buying a good office chair and then building a desk (I wanted a really odd shape, too) with an adjustable keyboard tray (I got mine from, but there are cheaper options available).

      That whole process kn

  • Links for trackpads (Score:5, Informative)

    by bfree ( 113420 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:56PM (#15716438)

    adesso []
    cirque []

    Just the first two found from a googling. Trackpad or touchscreen would seem the obvious solutions to me.
    • I had the same basic problem (albeit more in my shoulder than hand) but found what I needed was a keyboard with a built-in pad.

      I've now got two lovely ones, with a nice central touchpad, but in the UK they can be rather hard to track down :-( Well worth the effort though, and after the initial adjustment period I find them much, much faster for standard GUI work. Painting and FPSs don't work so well but for pretty much anything else I find touchpads a major bonus.
  • Marble Mouse (Score:5, Informative)

    by internic ( 453511 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:57PM (#15716442)

    Logitech makes a sort of trackball they call a "marble mouse". Perhaps it's the kind you've already tried, but I thought it was worth a mention. You can see some info from their site []. The bottom line it that it's a trackball that you operate with your index (and/or middle) finger rather than your thumb (as is traditional). I still use my thumb to click buttons, but it's a lot less work. If that's an issue, you can probably configure the computer to reverse left and right clicks, which would make the action even less frequent. I found it a bit akward to use at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly.

    • Plus it doesn't hurt that they're cheaper than a regular optical mouse (or at least, were at the bricks-and-mortar store I got mine at)
    • Re:Marble Mouse (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bastian ( 66383 )
      This relates to a question that pops to my mind - what kind of trackball? I can think of three kinds, all of which involve/allow very different motion. There's the marble mouse style, which the parent just mentioned. There's also another Logitech trackball that you manipulate with your thumb. From my own personal experience (mousing gave me a minor case of tendonitis) this is the worst kind of trackball for people with RSI - it made mine worse instead of better in the long run.

      The third kind is the clas
  • Keyboards (Score:2, Informative)

    by enmane ( 805543 )
    I find most desktop keyboards are subpar and almost all laptop keyboards to be horrible.

    Here's what I use and as a sufferer of RSS, I highly recommend the Goldtouch keyboards []

    I use one with my laptop and it is great. I have also had some luck with,
    1) icing my wrists as there seems to be swelling,
    2) having a chiropractor adjust the vertebrae between my shoulder blades as they tend to get screwed up by the leaning/hunching over as my RSS is in both hands a
    • Speaking about split-keyboards, one thing that is starting to annoy me with my Microsoft Natural Pro is that the left and right sides are very badly balanced in terms of number of keys and overall symmetry. While on the left you have Caps-Lock, A, S, D, F, G you have on the Right H, J, K, L, Ö, Ä, #, Return (German layout), meaning the right side has two more keys and the frequently used Return key, which in turn means that the left hand can almost stand still for most typing (all keys reachable w
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:57PM (#15716444) Homepage
    Seriously. He should try putting the mouse on the floor and moving it around with his foot. Manipulating mouse buttons doesn't really require a lot of manual dexterity.

    On the whole, though, this is a very tricky issue. A friend of mine has really bad repeat stress injury and there's no easy way to "fix" it. The way to get better is to cease doing the activity that messed you up to begin with. In this modern world it seems a little inconceivable that you'd go without using a computer -- perhaps for years -- but that might be what it takes. Lousy, but would he rather stay injured the rest of hia life?
    • I agree. Stopping what causes the injury is the best way of fixing it.

      I guess everyones experience would be a little diferent but here is mine and what i did to stop it. After long hours at the computer i started noticing sharp pains in my wriste and fingertips with it mostly concentrating in my thumb. I though Carpel tunnel but the doctors said nope. i started noticing that elevating the mouse pad and sitting differently in my chair helped to some degree. I also noticed if i combine this with stretching ev
      • Likewise, I always have to remove the arms from my office chair. Whenever I get a new chair it's always the same. It might be a few months before I start to notice that I'm slumping into the arms of the chair, putting all my weight onto my elbows, and it starts to give me pains in my arms. Remove the arms of the chair and I can't do that anymore. Everyone's mileage varies, but that's one I have to do.

        Something else a lot of people don't understand is that the word "ergonomic," as it's applied to office furn
  • USB Touchpad? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jrobinson5 ( 974354 )
    I don't know why you had such a hard time finding one, I found one here [] and here []. They are somewhat expensive, but you didn't state that price was a concern. Otherwise, most old laptop touchpads have PS2 interfaces, so if you're an elite hardware hacker (or play one on TV), you could do some kind of cool mod and post it on the internet. Good luck soldering ribbon cables, though.
  • There are mice out there that are wireless and have gyroscopes in them. You hold them in the air, and by turning them you move the mouse cursor. Something like that might be worth a try, though I really have no clue if it would help with RSI.

    The TouchStream keyboard/trackpad combos look pretty sweet if you ask me; back when they were in production I thought I might get one. But they weree horrendiously expensive, and are even more so now because they aren't made anymore. Ebay has a couple, but not for under
  • I used to work with a guy who had wrist problems, which isn't quite the same. But still, he swore by a Data Hand [] keyboard. I tried to use them, and well, way to weird for me. If set up properly one of the fingers will work as your mouse, so you don't need one separate. When used properly you can also type WAY fast.
  • I'm a lefty and I prefer to work my mouse with the left hand. But at school so many machines were set up with the mouse on the right and junk on the left (i.e. not easy to switch the mouse over) that I learned to be ambidextrous with the mouse. She should give it a try. Also, make sure all ergonomic stuff is OK, especially keyboard height. Her wrists should be straight and her elbows should be at 90 degrees or less.
  • by whm ( 67844 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:06PM (#15716494)
    Man...victimized by a 3M joystick mouse. What is the IT world coming to?! :P

  • I have nothing to do with [], except I follow this guy's exercise routines []. They work for me, so I'm wondering if anyone has had success with following the recommendations on the carpal tunnel site?
  • I have several ideas for this, but none are cheap or easy For one, you could try getting a touchscreen. You could build a remote-tracking device, and teach her to point with the remote (similar to the Wii >.>) Have you looked into modifying something like a wacom tablet? I don't think it would be that hard to put the guts of the stylus into the finger of a glove or something...
  • ... you get her to start mousing left handed. This aint rocket surgery!

    Buy a symmetrical 5-button mouse (like the excellent MS "Intellimouse Optical") and put it on the left side of her desk, with a cloth-topped neoprene mouse pad.

    Sure, she'll bitch and moan. She'll say she can't do anything left-handed, but within a week she will be at 75%, and after a month she'll be at 95% of her right hand's abilities.

    I had the same issue, and tried a bunch of different setups before finally admitting I simply had to gi
    • Except the 5-button part. Generally they put those extra buttons on the side, which puts some limitation on the way you can cradle the mouse and move it without accidentally brushing one of those damn side-buttons. The extra buttons don't really serve any useful purpose anyway (unless you're gaming, but if you've got a stress injury, it's probably a good idea to find something else to do with your leisure time for a while).

      Better to get just the basic Microsoft or Logitech optical wheel mouse. (something
    • The easiest way to switch is to make sure the buttons are inverted. This has to do with how our brains are hardwired. Hundreds of years of the development of piano playing technique attest to this.

      Try the following in a moment of idleness: start tapping on a table with your right hand, one finger at the timee from thumb to pinky and back.

      Try synchronizing that movement with your left hand, first using the same finger at the same time. Compare that to synchornizing fingers according to their position (i.e. b
  • No one mentioned this yet, but how about touchsreens? Although the displays are typically not very good resolution, they are very intuitive to use and are adequite for most office tasks. You could just use your pointer finger to select things on the screen, thus you'd put zero stress on your thumb.
  • There are several keyboards out there on the market that have a built-in laptop style trackpad and they're pretty cheap.

    I've bought a few for small office server closet type situations in the past and they work fairly well.

    Instead of looking in the mice section at Newegg/ajump/whoever, look in the keyboard section instead.
  • by alshithead ( 981606 ) * on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:27PM (#15716576)
    Cut off her thumb! No more problem.
  • Keyboards with a built in trackpoint (the little eraser nub) are available from several companies, including IBM and Unicomp []

    The only motion required from a normal home-row typing position is to move your right or left index finger over about 2cm, and the thumbs don't have to be moved, as they naturally rest on the left and right mouse buttons, respectively.

    This is very low stress, and the keyboards tend to be good quality. I use this with my IBM laptop for usually upwards of 12 h
    • I've also seen TrackPoint technology in a standalone button. It was being sold for industrial environments as an external mouse-like device which was sealed against contaminants. A quarter-sized (1 Euro-sized) rubber pad on a stainless steel base, with two switches for left & right clicking.
  • Vertical mouse (Score:3, Informative)

    by briskd ( 988791 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:30PM (#15716593)
    I have the same problem myself. After trying numerous things I've found that the Evoluent vertical Mouse 2 works, as the hand is at a completly different angle than a normal mouse, trackball or touchpad. I also use a Futuro RSI wrist strap which limits the movement in the wrist and forces me to keep it at the correct angle etc for the keyboard.
  • Touch Pads... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:31PM (#15716600)
    Laptop-like touch pads (I've looked but haven't found any)?

    Well, first link under the google search "touchpad mouse" found this: p?id=1&subcat=76&cat=Touchpads []

    The google ad supplied link was this: gwQKrtIiuC8yp-xWQr8jTAuymrO4KkIMZCAAQAhgCKAI4AEiQO VCArantB8gBAZUCFidQCsgC8IBA&q= m/o/redirect%3Ftag%3Damd-google-20%26path%3Dsearch -handle-url/index%3Dblended%2526field-keywords%3Dt ouchpad%2520mouse%2526results-process%3Ddefault%25 26dispatch%3Dsearch/ref%3Dpd_sl_aw_tops-1_blended_ 14183769_2 []

    So you can see, just using the right search term comes up with several. I know I have owned one that looks exactly like the "Easy Cat II" (it may have been the original since I have had it since 1994).
  • I haven't used this myself, but the ErgoClick [] uses the palm for clicking, and thus should relieve a lot of stress from the thumb.

    What's kept my RSI problems at bay for the last 13 years is the Kinesis Contoured Keyboard [] and a BodyBilt chair with linear tracking arms []. I cannot recommend these highly enough. They have saved me from being in terrible agony every day.

    The chair is rather expensive, but certainly much cheaper than either going on disability or a Vicodin addiction. The Kinesis keyboard takes a
  • While I can't provide a great solution (although I think if you can find a thimble-like mousing device, that would be perfect), have you considered giving her hands a bit of a 'spa treatment'? I think the extra boost provided by a little pampering could go a long way, if not in helping her joints, then in boosting her confidence (and possibly providing some less troublesome skin/nail issues - Every typist insists on a particular nail length, and the right length does make a difference).

    Paraffin(sp?) wax app
  • by Jotham ( 89116 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:46PM (#15716663)
    Simple question - Is she holding the mouse properly? (Don't take this as a condesending question - no one ever teaches people how to hold/use a mouse and ergonomics is very important - humans just aren't naturally designed to sit in chairs all day long). Pain such as this can often be caused by having the arm at the wrong angle causing the wrist to be twisted at an odd angle for long hours.

    Instead of just looking at the mouse, I'd suggest looking at her complete desk/chair/keyboard setup. Starting at the bottom and working your way up.

    Her chair should be such that her feet comfortably touch the ground when the knees are bent at about 90 (ie. not dangling and not cramped backwards/stretched forward) and her back is straight and comfortably supported. This should then put her elbows at about level of the desk surface.

    Get her to place her hands on the keyboard with her shoulders relaxed and her forearms should be able to rest along the desk surface (alot of people have their keyboard too close cramping up their shoulders and causing the elbows to stick out and wrists to be twisted... move the keyboard back towards the monitor until its at a good comfortable length). Do the same for the mouse and get her to hold it.

    Since her arm is now relaxed and stretched out, the base of the mouse should rest under the palm of the hand, with the base of the palm resting on the mousepad, so the fingers naturally stretch forward over the buttons. Alot of people hold mice incorrectly from above and then move it with their wrist. The wrist shouldn't actually move much (it wiggles a bit) but most of the movement actually coming from small movements of the elbow/shoulder (which translate to larger movements of the forearm which transfer through the base of the palm to the mouse - basically her watch should move in sync with the mouse and not sit still).

    Once all this is done and correct then you can check if the mouse if comfortable or not (I had one mouse which was too tall (meant for a bigger hand or just bad design) and I noticed the effect after a week as my wrist was tilted back just a fraction too much).
    • As someone who had terrible RSI in my right wrist and thumb, I can attest to this. I found that simply uncluttering my desk, getting the chair at the right height, and moving both my mouse and keyboard away from my body completely fixed the problem. I think that at least in my case, the pain was a symptom of my wrist and elbow being held at an odd angle - I now have my right arm almost straight out in front of me, and my wrist is level with my elbow.
  • I know someone said something about an intellimouse, which are pretty good (I can't stand the scroll-wheel though), but what about all the higher-end Logitech mice (mx500 and up, I have an mx700). Using a laptop mouse, or even a normal mouse for a full day, my hand will start to hurt, but with the Logitech mice, my hand is basically in it's natural resting/cupped position. Almost all the movement is done with the wrist and your thumb is basically dead resting in the grooved side.
  • For me, changing how I moved the mouse was a consderable help. I'll elaborate...

    My desk at home is rather high, so I had to get a higher chair to pull this off. I found it to be more natural, but only after getting one of those spiffy Loogie-tek MX1000 LAZAR RF mice. One has to move the mouse from the shoulder, or the elbow, not the wrist or forearm. My constant use of this little prick (mouse) led me to handling the mouse closer to my left forearm (if my left hand were to rest on the keyboard, my right
  • I am often working at a stand-up workstation where the keyboard hight is acceptable, but the mousing surface is not, even though both surfaces are the same height. This does cause severe wrist/thumb pain when I cannot avoid the rodent, usually due to web-based apps. I have learned that elevating the mousing surface helped, but positioning the mousing surface on an incline is better. In my case the incline is away from me, but it could be in any direction. The only downside is that the mouse ends up sett
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:58PM (#15716716) Journal
    In both this article and the one about standing vs. sitting at work, I see endless well-intentioned posts from people saying, "this is how you fix your problem." Almost always, it means (and often actually says) "this is how I fixed my problem, so you should do it to."

    Bottom line here folks is that what works for you might not work for me. Your ideal mouse isn't mine. Your wrist problems might in fact be caused by the same thing as my back problems and buddy's thumb problems, with the only difference being in how we've adapted to a flawed situation. Alternatively, what caused your thumb problem (and hence what fixed it) might not be even remotely related to what caused my nearly-identical thumb problem, and so the same fix might not work.

    The best advice you can get is to start with a standard configuration, identify the problem, and then explore as many potential fixes until you find the one that works. This is not an exact science! There are no single, deterministic solutions to each problem!

    So in short, consider every solution offered with a grain of salt--but do consider it.
  • Unfortunately, you really have to limit use drastically. There is no single magic bullet. That said, this helped me a lot:
    Evolient Mouse []
  • by Maelwryth ( 982896 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @12:11AM (#15716785) Homepage
    Use the other hand.
  • My wife has the exact same problems -- she can spend about three hours a day on a notebook keyboard and touchpad, but cannot go for more than about 30 minutes on a regular keyboard and mouse.

    All three of these products have a touchpad controller, and has notebook style keys.

    It seems for people with pains in their arms/wrists, a full-stroke regular keyboard may be painful to type on.

    Sony VAIO keyboard []
    IBM Keyboard with UltraNav []
    Adesso keyboard []
  • Mousekeys (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tlosk ( 761023 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @12:21AM (#15716823)
    Since use of the thumb is a big issue, I'd suggest showing her a built-in usability function that comes with windows, MouseKeys. When turned on it converts the number keys into mouse function keys (movement, single click, double click, drag, drop, etc). Now normally this is used to avoid all use of the mouse, but can be a little slow moving the cursor around. In your case thought it would allow moving the mouse with the right hand and using the left hand to do the clicking/dragging. Personally I use it a lot just because using the keyboard keys is a lot less stressful than clicking the mouse keys because you don't have to grip in order to push the buttons and there's less strain, especially when you have a lot of repeated clicking in a short period. There's of course a period of adjustment before it becomes second nature to use Mousekeys but it's a no cost, effective solution. And you can toggle it on and off just using the NUM Lock key so you still have access to the number pad for number entry.

    Here is a link to Microsofts description of how to turn them on: /mousekeys.aspx []

    and a nice tutorial on what keys do what and tweaks: ning/windows95/mouse.html []
  • I don't know what trackball you tried, I use a logitechtrackman wheel, and it really is less stress than others. bc it has a much friendlier shape, and uses the thumb, and leaves the 3 fingers for the scroll and the buttons ...

    just a suggestion ...

    if not that, send her to the gym to see a professional :( )or whereever your country's physiologists reside)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    1) use the other hand
    2) book some quality time with an Occupational Therapist.

    I favour the latter. I believe that this person is going to continue to have these problems no matter what pointer she uses until the actual problem (which IMO has nothing to do with using a mouse per se) is fixed. An OT can look at the way she positions her wrist, arm and shoulder as well as checking many other variables. The thumb is the kicker. When I use a mouse my thumb rests lightly against the side of the mouse and only
  • But what kind?
    I can imagine why a thumb-based trackball solution would make her situation worse.
    The best trackball I've used is the MS Trackball Explorer. It's just one of the best.
    That trackball uses a ball that's about 2 1/2" in diameter under the index and middle fingers, and has two buttons on the right side for your ring finger and pinky, along with a 2 button + scroll wheel combo on the left side. Sure, the thumb is now responsible for the left click, but with the MS software you can swap those assign
  • about Touch Screen.
  • but it got me thinking... has anyone tried using a Theremin as pointer control?

    While I doubt it would be all that useful, it would definately be cool.

  • Victims? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cjsnell ( 5825 )
    You've been victimized by the keyboard?

    Give me a break.

    I suppose you're probably going to sue Dell, huh?

    Everyone's a victim these days, it seems.
  • I would recommend the person to try some of the solutions from Naturalpoint []. I'm using the TrackIR myself in flight simulators to control the view, but the product was originally designed as a mouse replacement. It works very well and completely eliminates the need to use the hands to control the pointer.
  • My temporary mousing solution for when I injured a few of my fingers was to turn the mouse backwards. Then you can just rest the palm of your hand on the top of the mouse without gripping at all, and you click by gently twisting your arm to the right. The only downside is that you have to get used to the cursor moving the opposite way to normal.
  • I was an RSI sufferer. As well as following all the usual doctor's advice, I did a little experimentation to come up with a comfortable trackball, and discovered that the angle - and thus height - of the trackball could easily be adjusted with large styrofoam wedges taped underneath it.

    The idea (assuming a right-hander) is to raise the left-hand edge of the thumb trackball until the top of the ball is about 80mm or 3 inches above the desk. The exact height depends on the size of the user's hand, but the gen
  • Hoverstop (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hillos ( 988806 ) might be worth a look. They sell a mouse that looks and operates normally except it vibrates gently after a period of inactivity. This is to remind the user to remove their hand from the device. The manufacturers claim that this reduces stress and helps people with RSI and similar problems. Hillos
  • Cirque cue cat worked for me.
  • Excercise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ms1234 ( 211056 )
    15 minute break every 2 hours for stretching and moving around. Therapist usually have some workout program that can be done at work. A massage if possible once a week is also doing wonders here at my workplace.
  • I explicitly use sexual references in this post so you don't get hung up on the double entendres...

    It's _repetitive_ strain. It's soft tissue injury caused by using your wrists too much. Without changing the mouse/keyboard I have (I've tried many different types - rollerball, pen, touch pad, etc. ) I found it comes down to rest and little more.

    You must have breaks, and you must consciously relax your wrists.

    Also remember that your time on computer at home hurts you too; so does _any_ other wrist related act
  • I visited a doctor years ago regarding the same problem - except the pain would sometimes extend up my arm to the elbow. Bad news. It effected fly fishing and would sometimes hurt making a left hand turn in the car. Sometimes a hard cover book would be too much weight for my hand.

    I started alternating devices and heights of the device. The following has kept me doctor and pain free for six years now:

    1. Typical mouse on a flat (no ergonomic ledge for the wrist) mouse pad.
    2. Trackball directly on my desk surf
  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @02:15AM (#15717121)
    Tis certainly part of the problem.

    If a physical therapist can recommend and watch over some other forms of excercise, you can start to balance out and strengthen other muscles and possibly attentuate or eliminate the problems. It did work for me, though I realize if it gets bad enough that it is difficult to get over.
  • by dreamer-of-rules ( 794070 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @02:15AM (#15717122)
    Most people have horrible posture when typing, resting their arms on corners, extending their hands far out to the right (past the vestigal number pad) to mouse, keeping their head at an awkward angle that distorts their spine's natural curves..

    First off, she should listen to her body. If something hurts, stop doing it. This is the fair warning that her body is giving her. She can take breaks-- walk once around the building, refill her water glass, stretch in place, shake her hands. Use a timer in Outlook that goes off every twenty minutes at first until the symptoms show continued improvement.

    Second, she should avoid Repetive Motions as much as possible. Break the habit. Mix things up frequently.
    * Switch mousing hands regularly.
    * Always rest hands in the lap.
    * Adjust or fix the lighting. (reduces muscle tension and eye strain)
    * Adjust the monitor height.
    * Switch out the effing keyboard for something without an attached number pad.
    * Get a keyboard that is the right size for her body frame.
    * Attach multiple mice to her system for instant switching.
    * Get an adjustable keyboard tray.
    * Learn and use keyboard shortcuts.
    * Change positions several times a day.
    * Get an adjustable monitor stand. (and replace the monster CRT with an LCD)
    * Automate her crap work.

    Touchpad mice let her use her thumb, pinky, palm, even her knuckles if her hand is being too sensitive. It's easy enough to attach both a touchpad and a normal (but ergonomic) mouse to the system so that she can switch between them according to the action/gesture and what her hand is feeling that moment.

    I'm pissed that I missed the boat on the Touchstream keyboard/mice/touchpads [], but the TypeMatrix keyboards [] are a great second-place winner. The keyboards come in a small and large size, with the small one suitable for most people. They also fit correct posture more naturally, by getting rid of the oh-so-stupid staggered key layout, and by separating the left and right sizes a little, and adding extra enter/backspace keys in the center for good measure.

    I got one for someone at our work with chronic pain, and she had no problem adjusting to the new layout in hours. Her condition has improved a lot, and she credits the keyboard and better lighting. (I tried to get her to use a touchpad mouse, but it completely ignored her touch.)

    At my desk, I have the TypeMatrix keyboard, a regular mouse for precision-work, and a Cirque touchpad [] for normal mousing. (The touchpad is 9 years old, and still works great.) I put a large box on the side table so that I can also stand and use my personal laptop for the 40% of my work that is internet crap and web-development. When I'm web browsing (er, researching), I can actually kick back in my chair, and do everything just with the touchpad. Change positions!

    (I have considered the Kenesis split keyboard [] but it was too big and pricey for me at the time. I call it a fine third choice.)
  • The Nomus (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Karloskar ( 980435 )
    A lady in our office uses something called a Nomus []. It's developed by a Swedish company and is like a laptop track-pad, but with endstops for left and right that continue to move the cursor. It has buttons for left and right handed use and doesn't require any settings to be changed to change hands.

    I hate it, but she loves it and says it relieves her neck, arm and hand pains.
  • The Fingerworks Touchstream keyboard is ideal... it's a combined keyboad/mouse built from two touchpads, and uses 'multi-touch' technology for gestures and mousing. So for mousing you touch two fingers on the right-hand pad, to click you touch a third finger. It's also highly configurable, and great for RSI because there's no force involved in typing and there's no repetitive switching from keyboard to mouse.

    Sadly they don't make them any more, so the only way to get one is second-hand. They turn up on eb

  • and use microsoft natural keyboard 4000 and a digitizer pad instead of a mouse. it really helps a lot.

    also guitar playing has helped to strenghten my wrists.
  • You should all be sad that Fingerworks keyboards are no longer for sale. (They were essentially two large touch-pads that you could type on, and use gestures on, including full mouse controls.) I heard Apple bought the tech, but nothing seems to have come of that. For a few months after they went out of business, the keyboards were selling for a thousand dollars each (they retailed for three fifty) on eBay, but I held on to mine like it was... well, like it was worth more than a thousand dollars, which it i
  • by KlaymenDK ( 713149 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @03:28AM (#15717288) Journal
    Everything from ergonomic keyboards and mice to foot pedals and eye-control:
    Fentek Industries []
    Kinesis Corporation []
    AbilityHub []
    Solutions for Humans [] ...
  • Buy a book (Score:4, Informative)

    by oneandoneis2 ( 777721 ) * on Friday July 14, 2006 @03:39AM (#15717310) Homepage

    Specifically, this one []

    I used to spend 8 hours a day sitting on my specially-ordered ergonomic chair, tapping away at my ergonomic keybaord, wearing wrist supports, popping pain killers, and contemplating quitting my job because I had RSI in both wrists so badly my hands actually burned with pain. I started the excercises listed for wrist pain in that book one weekend, and when I came back to work on Monday, I chucked my wrist supports into my desk drawer, along with my painkillers, and never used them again. The chair went back to the suppliers a few days later.

    RSI is *not* caused by too much movement - the body exists for no other purpose than movement, and it was "designed" for a hell of a lot more movement than we give it by sitting in chairs all day. The cause of RSI is *bad* movement: Movement in a bad posture, using the wrong muscle groups, etc. A primary cause of my burning hands was that I typed with my hands bent back so the tendons in my forearm were scraping over the bones, rubbing them raw: sitting up straighter so my hands naturally bent forward/downward eliminated 90% of my pain overnight.

    The problem is with the body, not the office equipment. So don't waste your money on a new mouse: Fix the real problem.

  • This is probably not practical for your situation, but I found that if I started working from home, with a laptop, I could get in to all sorts of positions, and vary them, to release pressure. I can lie down with the laptop on my lap, I can crunch in to a ball, I can sit in a big comfy chair, I can sit on my bed, etc. This has kept RSI at bay for a year or so now - it's as much about the flexibility of being able to move around as much as anything else - if I stay in the same position too long (a couple of
  • "Laptop-like touch pads (I've looked but haven't found any)?"

    Where'd you look? Google provided about 656,000 results [].

    These trackpads have been pretty openly available for the past many years. Just in case google is down, here's a direct link to a seller [].

  • by robocord ( 15497 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @04:34AM (#15717424)
    Most RSIs aren't caused by the device being used. They're caused by poor workstation ergonomics in general. Start with her posture. Is she sitting with her feet flat on the floor, knees bent at about 90 degrees? Are her chair arms removed or set as low as possible? Ideally, she shouldn't rest her elbows, wrists, or the heels of her hands on anything while typing. When typing, her elbows should be close to her body and bent at about 90 degrees also. Given the posture constraints, her keyboard and mouse height will likely have to be adjusted. It's important to adjust the height of the equipment, not the height of the chair. Raising the chair will raise her legs, causing her to adjust her posture away from the optimum. For sensitive users, such as this person seems to be, you need to throw away all those wrist rests, pads, and other items that may put pressure on or near the carpal tunnel area. Even those swoopy microsoft keyboard, with the huge, non-removable wrist rest aren't very good for truly sensitive types. Correct posture of the legs, back, arms, and wrists is the real solution.

    I had huge problems with my wrists, for years. I finally went to work for a company big enough to have an ergonomics specialist. When I mentioned it to my boss, he immediately called her, and she came to my office to assess the situation. After a *long* lecture about posture, she took away all my so-called ergonomic gear. She then had the facilities guys come install a height-adjustable keyboard tray and bring me a new chair (Aeron, w00t!). Once everything was adjusted, the problem pretty quickly went away on its own. The only thing that I do now that's exceptional is that I use a trackpoint keyboard at home (from []).
    • That link should be to []. The plural version will get you what you want, but the site sucks and I think you might have to customer order via a sales-drone. The singular version will let you like to a yahoo store and will happily sell you a somewhat ugly keyboard with awesome but noisy mechanical switches and a nice trackpoint mouse pointer.
  • by Mant ( 578427 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:22AM (#15718203) Homepage

    I have been suffering from RSI for about a year now and found some things that help.

    Voice control software. I use ViaVoice myself. It is a real pain to train, but once done it is very good for emails, documents and the like. Probably too unwieldy for a total replacement, but it can reduce the typing load.

    RSIGuard [] a handy program that forces you to take breaks based on how much you have used the mouse or keyboard. Simple idea, but it is so easy to forget to take breaks.

    Aerobic Mouse [] or Quill Mouse. If gripping a pointing device is the problem this is great. Its like a vertical mouse and your hand sits in a tray on the side of it. You can move it around and keep the hand relaxed.

  • by gozar ( 39392 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:26AM (#15718228) Homepage
    Why not try a drawing tablet? A pen interface might be more natural to them to use.

    For further reading:

  • She needs to see an orthopedic surgeon NOW!!!!!!

    I have the same problem: changing hands is initially awkward, but it helps.

    Check her posture ... any reaching forward aggravates the tendons. Ergonomics must be perfect.

    A keyboard with integrated touchpad would allow her to use fingertips instead of thumb ... might help.

    She needs to REST NOW or this can turn into a permenent problem! And a wrist splint that immobilizes the thumb (the low-cost equivalent is to tape the thumb to the hand). Wearing wrist braces as much as possible

    Taking painkillers is counterproductive unless you take painkillers AND rest ... painkillers without rest allows you to continue damaging the tendons and by the time the damage is so great the painkillers don't work, the tendons might be beyond recovery.

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.