Hope yet for sufferers of painful mouse-ache

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 January, 1998, 12:00am

I have used an Apple Macintosh for as long as I have been using computers - more than eight years. Macs are beautiful machines and I will never use anything else, but the amount of time spent clicking a mouse has taken its toll.

About a year ago, following the onset of almost unbearable pain in my right wrist, I was diagnosed as suffering from a form of tendinitis caused by repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Since then, I have tried wrist supports, various mouses and even a combination of these with painkillers, but the problem persists.

Since I am a designer and depend on my computer for survival, I cannot stop using it.

Is there anything you know of that might help me? I need something that will help with the clicking.

CHRISTINA LEE Macau One of the biggest causes of mouse-related RSI is not just the position used in holding the mouse, but the fact that you have to click so many times. It is usually the tendons of your forefinger that are the first to go, and little short of stopping your mouse use will make it go away.

Among the many ways to deal with this sort of problem are ergonomically correct mouses, correct sitting posture, alternating use of the mouse between the left and right hands, or even using voice commands so as not to use a mouse at all.

The latter is rather impractical, and even if it does work has the nasty habit of getting you told off by unfortunate colleagues who may be forced to share an office.

A more practical software alternative is available, but won't be much good for you at the moment since it is only designed for Windows 95 or NT.

Nevertheless, programmer Jeff Roush - a fellow RSI sufferer who wrote the program to help himself - has more or less committed himself to producing versions of the program for other platforms.

Called MouseTools, the program monitors your mouse movement and actually clicks for you when you stop over a particular point on the screen.

Although it does not eliminate the need to use a mouse, it does away with clicking. All you need to do is pause for a fraction of a second over the button or at the desired point on the page or document.

MouseTool is available free for a 20-day trial period, after which Mr Roush asks for US$39.95 for the registered version. Check it out at http://www.mousetool.com on the Web, and while you are at it, leave Mr Roush a message about writing the program for the Mac.

In the meantime, you might want to train yourself to use your mouse with your left hand. If it took nearly seven years for your right wrist to go, with any luck a version of MouseTool for the Mac will be developed before you trash your left wrist.

E-mail Larry Campbell at techtalkscmp.com or write c/o Technology Post, 28th floor, Dorset House, Taikoo Place, 979 King's Road, Quarry Bay. Fax 2565 1624.


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