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Pointing devices, such as the mouse and trackball, can cause computer-related injuries to the shoulders, neck, elbows, wrists, and hands. Common actions associated with such devices include reaching, gripping, pivoting at the wrist, finger clicking, and holding the button when “dragging” the mouse. Those actions and static arm posture (“mouse arm”) may cause problems eventually.

When a pointing device is used while keying, it is important that it is accessed without overreaching or using awkward postures. To accomplish this place the pointing device as close to the keyboard as possible.

When the pointing device is in the right position
8. The pointing device is close to the keyboard.

There are many improvement options for positioning the pointing device that are not covered in this section. Other comfortable positions for the pointing device that promote a flat (neutral) wrist can be used.

When using a mouse, try this technique:*  
• Drop your arm and hand as one onto the mouse, with your upper arm hanging freely from your shoulder.
• Drape your hand over the mouse, with your palm on the center of the mouse and all your fingertips hanging over the front and sides (avoid the temptation to grip the mouse with your fingers).
• Make small circular motions with the mouse by making arm movements from the shoulder.
• Click the mouse button with the mid-section of your finger rather than your fingertip.

* “Computing Without Pain With the MouseKeyDo System,” Norman J. Kahan, MD.

Tips for mouse or trackball:
• Take your hand off the mouse or trackball when you are not using it, and rest your hand in your lap.

• Make sure you have enough space on the work surface to move the cursor with the mouse in one sweeping movement, rather than having to pick up and reposition the mouse.

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Department of Industrial Relations   Cal/OSHA Consultation Service   Research and Education Unit