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A mouse is a pointing device that controls the movement of the cursor on a computer's display screen. It's one of the primary computer accessories. In fact, many computer users don't know how use their computers without the aid of their mouse. As a key computer component, it's often used for long amounts of time. Prolonged use of mice sometimes leads to problems such as muscle fatigue, inflammation, strained shoulders and elbows, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These ailments and computer-related injuries are precisely what an ergonomic mouse seeks to prevent.
A mouse becomes an ergonomic mouse when it is comfortable and easy to use, both physically and psychologically. Not all mice are like that, however. Ergonomic mice have been specially designed by engineers, doctors, and other professionals to reduce fatigue and repetitive stress imposed on your wrist, hand, and arm.
The increased comfort of an ergonomic mouse leads to greater productivity for the user. In fact, some ergonomic mice boast that they will keep your hand in an "optimal work zone."
A common trait among different ergonomic mice is the fact that they keep the hand in a more natural position and neutral angle, as opposed to the ordinary mouse that requires you to twist your forearm. This position is often billed as a "handshake position" — a term that will come up a lot when you're searching for ergonomic mice.
Beyond that, different products add different features. Some boast of additional buttons that are programmable with different functions. Some have adjustable sizes while others take a "one shape fits all hand sizes" approach. Some stick to the regular horizontal shape, while others go for the "vertical grip." Others still have built-in palm supports, scroll wheels, optical sensors, built-in trackballs, and soft-touch materials.
An ergonomic mouse can also come in left- and right-hand variants, as well as cabled and cordless. Many are compatible with different operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. For maximum ease and comfort, the ergonomic mouse can be teamed up with other ergonomic computer devices, including ergonomic keyboards, ergonomic mouse pads, wrist rests, and arm supports.
I had to get an ergonomic mouse at work to combat carpal tunnel pain. It did help. I have an optical ergonomic mouse that's also wireless, which saves me from having too many cords winding around on my desk.
I would so love to have one of the eye-controlled pointers, which would save my wrists a lot of work, but they're too expensive, and I don't really need one -- that's just on my gadget wish list.
I have an ergonomic mouse at home, but at work, I use a trackball, which I think has really helped ease my wrist and shoulder pain. It was recommended by an occupational services doctor who treated me for pain in my shoulder and back. He said I had an inflamed trapezius, and it was probably caused by too much mousing. He suggested I try a trackball. I did, and even though it took me a week or two to learn how to really use it, I like it now. I don't have to move my wrist nearly as much, and it's much more comfortable for me.
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