What are Orthopedic Mice?
An Orthopedic Mouse refers to mice that take into account the bones and muscles of the hand (and arm). These mice incorporate design elements which will assist in the treatment and accommodation of illnesses and injuries in the musculoskeletal components of the hand. As a hand is not symmetrical, mice which fall into this category, by definition, cannot be ambidextrous. Most mice in this category come in multiple sizes as users have a wide range of different hand sizes. All the above design elements result in a classification of mice which provides superior support to the structure of the hand in a neutral posture. In many cases, due to the lack of clear nomenclature to denominate this type of mouse, they are simply called "Ergonomic Mice" (which is of course a less objective and more subjective terminology).
What are the Ergonomic Benefits of an Orthopedic Mouse?
What all Orthopedic Mice have in common is their ability to reduce Static Grip Force by providing a mouse shape which improves the usability of the mouse as a tool by creating an asymmetrically 'sized' mouse which is a better 'fit' for the user. These benefits can always be realized during periods of activity and in some case, even during periods of inactivity. Taking into account the physiology of the hand and arm, these mice all have a 'sloped' shape which results in a higher elevation of the index finger and lower elevation of the fifth finger, which depending on the degree of slope will provide a slight or significant reduction in Pronation of the hand. To clarify, instead of the mouse requiring a 'palm down' orientation of the hand, it can be used in a position where the hand is sloped at an angle matching the slope of the mouse.
By supporting the structure of the hand which includes elevating the hand off the surface to varying degrees, compression is reduced or prevented on the outside edge (i.e. the side with the 5th finger) of the hand. This greatly helps reduce the risk of developing Guyon's Canal Syndrome and can help to reduce symptoms for individuals who have been diagnosed with this condition.
Some Orthopedic mice also take into account the bones and muscles of the fingers of the user. Traditional mice require the user to have their fingers in full extension, and users will often 'hover' their fingers in a hyper-extended position in anticipation of the next click. This can lead to overexertion of the extensor muscles in the hands and forearm, and potentially even lead to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
. Typically this will involve creating a 'waterfall' design to the buttons which allows the fingers to curl downward and reduce the amount of extensor muscle usage. This can also help address the symptoms of Trigger Finger
and potentially assist in preventing development of the condition.
What are Potential Concerns when Considering an Orthopedic Mouse?
The most significant concern is to ensure that the personal Anthropometrics
of the individual are taken into account, and the correct size of mouse is selected. In addition, the behaviour of the user can also play a key role, and should also be evaluated.
Some Orthopedic Mice feature a passive design, in that their design will allow an ergonomic benefit for the user but does not force it to occur. These passive designs typically have more latitude for the user in terms of adjusting to the device, but inherent in this is the ability for the device to be misused. Other Orthopedic Mice feature an 'active' design which actively prevents any muting of ergonomic benefits of the device which could arise from incorrect usage. These active designs may frustrate users who insist on maintaining bad behaviours, as they will be forced to abandon the habits which may be a source of their pain and discomfort.
In general the learning curves associated with adjusting to Orthopedic Mice are the shortest of all adjustments, as using the mouse is still essentially the same as before, only the shape has changed. Most mousing alternatives also are accompanied by a different mousing paradigm - users may have more difficulty adjusting to this than simply a differently shaped mouse.
For What Types of Tasks / Users are Orthopedic Mice Suitable?
Orthopedic Mice are complete mouse replacements for practically any user. Just as with regular mice, some are more appropriate for graphic intensive users, for gamers, for casual users, etc. but in all cases a suitable mouse can easily be found for any task.
What Physical Injuries or Conditions Typically Benefit from an Orthopedic Mouse?
Orthopedic Mice are of benefit to anyone experiencing any discomfort from using a conventional mouse. This includes individuals with hand conditions such as arthritis and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
, Guyon's Canal Syndrome
and DeQuervains Tenosynovitus
and Stenosing Tenosynovitus