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How to Avoid the Mouse Trap

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RALEIGH — If your hands and arms get tired using your computer you may have "mouse in hand" syndrome. Using keyboards has long been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Now the mouse is coming under scrutiny. WRAL OnLine reporter Tom Lawrence looked into the problem.

An analysis of workers compensation shows a small rise in mouse-related problems. More of us are spending more time using Windows and Mac software. Both are mouse friendly, but chasing your mouse can tire your hands.

Mouse is a term describing all kinds of pointers and many of us use them day in and day out. Dr. Carolyn Sommerich of NC State's Ergonomics lab studys types and uses of pointers. If your mouse hand gets tired or aches, your mouse may be in the wrong place.

Listen toauorRealAudiofiles."They're always reaching you know with the shoulder and the arm to reach that mouse."The best mouse position is beside your keyboard.

Listen toauorRealAudiofiles."This is generally the position that you use for using the mouse or the keyboard where your forearm is just about as far in this direction as it can go."


That's an unnatural position and causes a strain. Sommerich and her students study all types of mice -- large, small and in between -- even the tiny pointers on laptops.

Your mouse should fit your hand. Some pointers are not mice at all, they are touchpads. Simply glide your finger over the pad. You'll find exercises on the Internet for aching fingers, hands and shoulders. Whether they work is questionable.

Listen toauorRealAudiofiles."The good part about them is that they are giving you a break from looking at the screen, from holding these postures that you've been holding for so long."If you're having problems, try a different type of mouse, say a trackball or the touchpad. Somewhere, there's a mouse you'll like. And remember to take an occasional break.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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