Tracker Ball vs. Mouse and Alexander Technique

My employee has purchased a Microsoft Natural Keyboard and I’m waiting for a trackball mouse (ergonomic mouse did not help).

Comment 1: My experience with changing from a mouse to a tracker ball was a couple of months of relief then back to pain again. I hope it works for you but don’t assume it will. The best help I have had is from regular Alexander Technique sessions including a visit at work (paid for by my employer) which proved to be very beneficial. Prior to starting the AT sessions I had been rating my pain at 4 (beginning of week) to 5 (end of week) on my personal 5-point scale.  After only a few session, I was down to 1 (beginning) to 2 (end of week). Now I just have occasional 1 and very occasional 2.

Comment 2: Thanks that’s worth knowing. Was the Alexander Technique recommended by your employer or did you recommend it to them?

Comment 3: Where was this treatment? Problem is most of the reputable physios etc. are London based. What caused your problem?

Comment 4: Unlike you, I don’t suffer from RSI in any of its forms. I do however use a tracker ball and have done so for quite some time. I tend to be on my computer about 3-4 hours per day but with many interruptions, so it doesn’t follow that a tracker ball is necessarily better. I certainly much prefer it myself, having got used to one on medical kit in Denmark before returning to the UK. I’d say “give it a try – but don’t expect miracles”. As a Safety Officer I suspect that there are very many contributory factors to these problems we group under the heading “RSI”. The best we can reasonably hope to do until we’ve tracked down all of them, is to reduce or eliminate as many as possible.

Comment 5: I still have my tracker ball and it does have a couple of advantages over the mouse. I can use it two handed: left to roll the ball, right to click the button. Also it has three buttons and the middle one is assignable (e.g. double click or drag lock at user preference). In my opinion now I understand more about how the arm-wrist-thumb-fingers move, the tracker ball I have is not well designed and without considerable care it is very easy to use it in such a way as to cause considerable strain to the user. Such devices could be designed very much better. I would be interested to know if anyone has found a really well designed pointing device that is actually “ergonomic” rather than just claiming to be! BTW many mouse users who try my tracker ball find it very twitchy and can’t get on with it! It took me some days/weeks to adapt.

I entirely agree that there can be many contributory factors in the onset of RSI. Reading some of the contributions to this list I now appreciate that the stress I was experiencing at work and the hours and hours of (unpaid!) overtime I put in on my PC had a lot to do with it. Before the wrist/arm pain became manifest I had pain between the shoulder blades caused by the stress (it disappeared on holiday and reappeared the moment I got back to work!) I think that this was very material in the damage caused to my arm and wrist. Incidentally my employers have been VERY supportive and taken what action they can (within a very tight Health and Safety budget) to help me.

Comment 6: Shoulder blade pain basically means you have AMT, since there is no other RSI condition that has this symptom as far as I know – get the information about this from my web site. The good news is this is very treatable, I am basically recovered after fairly bad RSI a few years back. I don’t seem to have any serious damage in my arms, though there is some lingering post-RSI aching if I do more than 8 hours typing a day without enough breaks and rest.

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