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Reduce finger, wrist and forearm pain due to computer mouse usage with Gentle Mouse



Reduce RSI Mouse Finger Pain with Gentle Mouse



If you are reading this on a computer screen, chances are that you would have clicked your mouse at least a couple of times to navigate through this content. And in most cases, the finger used to click would be your index finger. Now imagine doing this repetitive movement every few minutes, day after day, year after year and you can easily infer that your fingers are at an increased risk of repetitive stress injury (or RSI) due to mouse overuse.

The common name given to this painful condition is  Mouse Finger.  The 'Finger' in Mouse Finger usually leads a person to believe that the pain is restricted to the fingers alone.  However, from what I have surmised after reviewing anecdotal evidence and medical literature, it commonly presents as a cluster of symptoms in the finger, wrist and the forearm. Perhaps that explains why there are no easily available research studies pertaining to Mouse Finger alone. Most of the research studies consider these symptoms as a part of  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or  Upper Extremity Disorders.

One such study has found that the prevalence of such disorders is as high as 13% among computer users. With this in mind, it will be useful for every computer user to explore ways of reducing repetitive clicking and thereby reduce the risk of suffering from such a painful condition. Ergonomic mice, like the Evoluent, the Penguin, the 3M ergonomic, (all of which I have used for several years now), solve one part of the problem - which is to put your arm in a more comfortable and natural position as compared to that with a conventional mouse. For example, the Evoluent puts your hand in a 'handshake' position. but they do not effectively deal with the issue of repetitive clicking. they do mitigate the problem by providing programmable buttons so that the user can do the same mouse actions with different buttons  This helps by spreading the load of the repetitive movement between different fingers. However, the user still has to do the same number of mouse clicks as she would have done without these ergonomic mice.




Gentle Mouse adopts a completely different approach to the problem. It eliminates the requirement of clicking completely. It does this by displaying pop-up windows for a brief period after a mouse is moved and stopped. Each of these pop-up windows will emulate a different mouse action when the mouse is moved over it. So when you have to do a left click, you simply move the mouse over the window for the left click and it will automatically emulate the mouse left click action for you. Thus, the need for physically pressing the mouse buttons is completely removed. All you have to do is to move the mouse to the place where you want to click, then stop briefly and let the pop-up windows appear -  and then again move the mouse over the window which emulates the mouse action that you want to perform. In essence, the only activity that the user has to do with the mouse is to move it.

To me, the concept of using the pop-up windows to perform mouse actions is pure genius. When I first came across this, I wondered why we had to wait for several decades for this kind of an invention. This alone can have a significant impact on the incidence of workplace injuries in our society.


I have been using Gentle Mouse for more than a year now without any problems. The software installed easily on my Windows 7 machine. Unlike other commercial expensive software that I have used, I don't recall any instance when it has crashed. The time to learn how to use the software is pretty short. I recall starting to use it within an hour of purchasing it. My bigger challenge was to unlearn the impulse to manually click the mouse button. In fact, sometimes my brain would trick me into believing that if I clicked manually I would work faster. After a few weeks of practice, I was able to get rid of the habit. In fact, now I experience a reverse problem. When I work on someone else's computer, I  find myself waiting for Gentle Mouse pop-up windows to appear so that it can do the mouse click for me.




Gentle Mouse is also highly customisable. Most of the customisations relate to the appearance and location of the pop-up windows. I actually never felt the requirement to change the default settings that the software comes with. So I have been using it out of the box for almost a year now.

The only drawback that I have experienced is that sometimes when I'm moving the mouse diagonally towards the upper left corner, I end up inadvertently emulating left mouse button press. This is because the left mouse button press pop up window appears when the mouse is moved in that direction after a brief hiatus. However, those instances are far and few in between as there are multiple conditions that need to be satisfied simultaneously, which, in my experience, does not happen very often.




In summary, Gentle Mouse software in combination with any of the Ergonomic Mice will provide a great way for you to work productively for extended periods of time with minimum impact on the fingers. If you are already suffering from pain due to a repetitive stress injury, you may want to consider using DragonNaturallySpeaking so that you can operate the mouse with your voice as well as with your hand.

Are there any other solutions that you have used in the past? What worked for you and what did not? Please let me know your views in the comments below.

Comments

  1. I definitely get this pain. did not know there was a solution. Thanks for explaining it. I like the video too. gentle mouse sounds so simple and easy to use. I do get carpal tunnel. I use to get it really badly but found long term improvement from using the wrist brace you recommend.

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  2. I had experienced wrist and finger pain while using the computer, and evoluent vertical mouse had helped me a lot. I tested the GentleMouse software. It provides a solution that is better than similar software (dwell clicker etc) but the interface is very archaic, not intuitive to customize for the user. I think if they would improve on that, they'll have a great product.

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  3. Thank you for your response.I have also used other software(Camera mouse) based on dwell click. I have never had problems with the interface. So I do not understand why you mention it is archaic. But perhaps it is a very subjective issue. I have been using evoluent for more than 10 years now. In fact, my fingers pain started well after I started using vertical mice. Evoluent unfortunately does not prevent (what I believe) the risk to index finger tendenitis . if you have to prevent that, then perhaps using Evoluent both on the left and right hand throughout the day may be better. As for gentle mouse , actually, you can speak directly to the developer and let him know. As far as I understand, this is being built by an individual developer and perhaps he will be more than willing to take suggestions. Is there any principle apart from dwell click that can used? I can't think of any , but hopefully someone would have better ideas

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