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For most of us this is a relatively easy task. There are many mice available and they vary between very comfortable to just usable. Of course later on down the line we may find that not choosing carefully enough has resulted in some disorder such as RSI but generally we don’t give it a lot of thought. For my colleague Cliff however choosing a mouse was quite a task.

Earlier this year we were saddened to learn that Cliff had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I’m not going to dwell on the disease here but the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the United Kingdom has an excellent website at As an aside it seems that Deloitte have shortlisted the charity for the company’s Charity of the Year 2010. Details are here, if you work for Deloitte or know someone who does, please help the charity win. (NOTE: September 2010, I contacted PDS to see what had happened. They told me “… Unfortunately we didn’t make Deloitte’s charity of the year. They have now picked partners for the next two years, which happened in December. They did however give us £1000 as we got on to the shortlist… “).

One of the well recognised symptoms is hand shaking and Cliff has been beset with this symptom in his right hand for some time now. The shaking causes spasmodic movements of the fingers but only happens when the hand isn’t anchored or gripping something.

When we use a conventional mouse we have to keep our finger slightly tensed above the mouse button. For Cliff this was a problem as the spasms caused him to click the mouse involuntarily as there is nowhere to anchor the fingers especially when moving the mouse. We looked at a number of solutions:-

Logitech Trackman® Marble®

Logitech Trackman® Marble®

The Logitech Trackman® Marble® (click the image for details on this product) proved to be no more usable for him than a conventional mouse. This did surprise me as it involves using your hand differently, what I hadn’t appreciated up until then was that it still requires the clicking finger to be held tense. The trackball was however well built and very good value for money. Like the conventional mouse it could be used left or right handed.

He also tried two unconventional mice. The Evoluent™ VerticalMouse™ 3 and the 3M™ Ergonomic Mouse (click the images for more information about the products). The Evoluent VerticleMouse is as you can see a conventional mouse on it’s side and the 3M Optical Ergonomic Mouse is rather like a fixed joystick. Both products are necessarily handed and you have to buy a right or left hand version. So if like me you regularly swap hands to give your wrists a rest then it’s a big investment.

Evoluent™ VerticalMouse™ 3

Evoluent™ VerticalMouse™ 3

The Evoluent VerticleMouse was the more expensive of the two, that said, it was beautifully built and very solid. As with a conventional mouse, your hand (or in this case the side of your hand) touches the desk as you move the mouse around. Unexpectedly though it still presented the problem of the fingers. Even though the hand is on it’s side the fingers are again placed over the buttons and spasms can still caused problems.

3M Ergonomic Mouse

3M™ Ergonomic Mouse

The Ergonomic Mouse was not built to such a high standard but the build was adequate. Although it looks like a joystick the vertical handle is fixed. The rocker button on the top of the handle gives you the left and right hand mouse buttons using your thumb. There is also a scroll button on the shaft of the handle which works well. You hand rests on the base of the mouse and you move the whole thing round the mouse mat. This was the one that worked for Cliff. The key things are: you don’t need to keep the thumb tensed above the rocker button as it can be anchored or rested against the shaft while the cursor is being positioned, the scroll button requires a squeezing action and your arm does not need to be kept tensed as it is supported between the shoulder and the base of the mouse.

442 · December 11, 2009 · Reviews · Tags: , · [Print]

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