Joystick-like mouse eases muscle strain

If you've ever been in a position in which you find yourself using a mouse

for many hours, you may have experienced stiffness, pain or even numbness

in your shoulder, arm, hand or wrist. AnimaX International has designed

an unusual product to relieve some of those irritating aches and pains.

Dubbed "Dr. Mouse," this pointing device helps to keep your wrist in a stable,

natural position.

Dr. Mouse has the look and feel of a joystick. Unlike a joystick, however,

Dr. Mouse is designed to be moved on a mouse pad, just like a conventional

mouse. The product is designed to keep your arm in a natural and comfortable

position. It keeps your wrist stable to prevent and relieve conditions such

as repetitive stress injury (RSI) and carpal tunnel syndrome.

According to AnimaX, clinical studies have shown that using Dr. Mouse reduces muscle

loading in the arm and wrist when compared with using a traditional mouse.

Another difference between Dr. Mouse and a joystick is that the button on

top doesn't launch missiles. Instead, it is used for left and right mouse

clicks. In addition, the mouse has a button along the shaft that provides

four-way scrolling in all Microsoft Corp.- and Internet-compatible programs.

With this extra button, you also can access the Quick Access menu. The menu

has two folders, one listing applications that are running and the other

displaying a programmed list your favorite or most frequently used programs.

Unlike a regular mouse, one size does not fit all with Dr. Mouse. It comes

in two sizes: medium and large. It is available for IBM Corp.-compatible

PCs, Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh and iMac systems, and Sun Microsystems

Inc. and Silicon Graphics Inc. workstations.

After installing the software, a pop-up menu appears on the screen that

takes you through a step-by-step process on how to use Dr. Mouse.

Unfortunately, learning how to use the mouse and getting used to using it

are two different things. We quickly learned how to get Dr. Mouse to do

what we wanted. But we never got to the point of feeling comfortable with

the device. Moving one's entire arm instead of simply one's hand and wrist

seemed like too much work. What's more, with Dr. Mouse, you need to rest

your entire forearm on the desk, which can be tough if you have limited

desk space. After the fourth day of using Dr. Mouse, we returned to using

a traditional mouse.

It's possible that if a person suffered from certain types of RSI and if

using a conventional mouse was painful, Dr. Mouse, awkward as it is, might

provide relief. Still, the device presents enough hurdles that we strongly

recommend keeping your receipt if you decide to give Dr. Mouse a try.

REPORT CARD

Dr. Mouse

Score: C

AnimaX International

(818) 882-1333

www.animaxusa.com

Price and Availability: Available on the open market for $60.

Remarks: It may prevent and relieve some carpal tunnel symptoms, but getting used to using Dr. Mouse can be a pain.

BY Ania Bernat
Sept. 27, 1999

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