I have a mouse problem. I don’t mean the house is overrun with small rodents. (Well, it is, but that’s another story.) No, the problem is that the conventional computer mouse has become a pain to use.
I have osteoarthritis in most of my joints. The hands are especially bad. Indeed, one of the things that has driven me back to working on a desktop machine (an iMac, thanks for asking) rather than a laptop was that using a trackpad became agony, at least for extended periods.
And it wasn’t even the swiping to move the mouse pointer – it was the tapping. I found I was starting to avoid doing mouse clicks whenever I could.
The buttons on a conventional mouse are better. You click using the underside of your finger whereas a trackpad demands you use the tip. Tapping the tips of your fingers on a hard surface sends a shock wave down the bones – right to the joint. That’s not good.
So when I went back to the desktop machine I used the mouse that came with the iMac. That was bad too. It’s Apple’s beautiful and very clever Magic Mouse 2. And in case you’re not familiar with it, it’s essentially a trackpad that’s been gracefully bent. To invoke actions you’d normally associate with a scrollwheel you stroke the surface of the mouse (and that’s not a sentence you get to use every day). To click, you press down the whole top surface.
The Magic Mouse 2 is a thing of beauty, and I do still use it occasionally, just to change things up. But there was something about the gentle curve that made my hand ache. It’s not uncommon with osteoarthritis of the hands that you also get Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), carpal tunnel and other problems, partly because you instinctively try to compensate for the painful joints.
With the Apple mouse I found my hand hovered above it. There was no natural fit. Much as I love the Apple device, I needed something that suited my hand better.
It was while searching for a chunkier mouse (another rare phrase) that I discovered the Hippus HandShoe Mouse. This was developed by academics in The Netherlands based on some impressive research. I recommend going to their site to learn more about the background. Suffice to say, I was convinced – which I needed to be because it’s not a cheap device at €109 (and slightly more for the wireless version).
The HandShoe mouse comes in a choice of left- and right-handed versions. The principle is that your whole hand is cradled by the device and, aside from clicking buttons and twirling the scroll wheel – your hand doesn’t move. All the mousing action is achieved with your arm.
It seems the designers are mostly targeting carpal tunnel sufferers with this device. But I’ve found that the shape of the mouse matches the natural shape my hand wants to assume in order to reduce joint pain.
As far as the computer is concerned it’s just a standard USB three-button optical mouse with scroll wheel – no special drivers needed. It worked right out of the box.
You need a reasonable amount of space for it. In terns of the distance you cover over the mouse mat it’s the same as any other mouse. But the device itself is huge. It’s one of the reasons I’m so keen on compact, tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards.
I’ve been using the HandShoe mouse for about 18 months now and it’s been a life-saver. My hand and arm are so much more relaxed than they ever were with conventional mice. I can work far longer hours before pain sets in. And, in fact, I can’t honestly trace any of the pain to the mouse – it’s nearly all to do with the keyboard, I reckon.
I’m a heavy computer user and the HandShoe mouse has worked flawlessly all the time I’ve had it. It’s getting a bit shiny now in places and it’s not the prettiest object. But anything that so effectively reduces pain is welcome in my office any day.