The Evoluent Mouse
It’s no exaggeration to say that this mouse has saved me a lot of pain. Perhaps it’s not an over-statement to say that it’s allowed me to continue working in the CG field, when otherwise I may have permanently damaged myself. A pretty dramatic opening claim I know. But let me explain…
One of the worst aspects of this business is the long hours. Twelve plus hour days hunched over a PC are not uncommon. We all know this isn’t healthy. But these situations can occur towards the end of a project at ‘crunch’ time. The side effects of such long hours are varied and mostly negative. Crunch time is mentally draining. If extended it can also strain relationships between yourself, collegues, family and friends. And unquestionably it can damage you physically.
If you’ve worked in the CG industry I’m sure you’ll know some of the physical symptoms caused by sitting in the same position, doing sedintary work, for long periods of time. Symptoms such as back ache, neck/shoulder pain are common ailments. But there is one problem that once it strikes, it can seriously threaten your ability to work and follow your chosen livelihood. That is wrist pain.
We have all heard of repetative strain injury (RSI) and carpal tunnel syndrone (CTS). Lets not get into the specifics of these ailments, lets just simply bundle them under the heading of ‘wrist pain’. And this is how I would describe what I first experienced some six/seven years ago. It was a dull deep ache in my right wrist (I’m right handed so this is my mouse hand), that occurred after long sessions working at the computer. An unpleasant but manageable experience. However, then the pain would appear after not so long sessions sat at the computer. This was then followed by episodes of pain over the weekend, that would pretty much dissappeared by Monday morning, only to re-appear later that day.
It got to the point where simply adopting the traditional mouse pose with my right hand could encourage this ache, so I knew I had to do something about it. It was apparently getting worse and possibly could stop me working. So after some research and talking to collegues I was introduced to the concept of the ‘hand-shake’ mouse. It’s a mouse that forces you to adopt a different pose, it’s claim was that for reasons of biometrics, this pose is more natural and causes less strain on you wrist joint.
I bought one and immeadiately experienced a massive improvement. I could work away and the once familiar pain did not appear. I can honestly say that it has been a revelation. Not a miracle, because if I spend an inordinate amount of time at a computer then eventually I can still suffer a slight fatigue in my wrist. But the level of pain and discomfort is nowhere near to the levels I experienced with a normal mouse. In fact I’m pretty sure that I could never have continued working at the levels I have if I were forced to use a traditional mouse.
There are a few different designs based on this ‘hand-shake’ theory, and my prefered option is the Evoluent Mouse. I’m currently on my third model (two models still working).
And it’s not just me who has had this experience. I have a number of collegues who now use this design and it’s also been a huge relief to them. In talking to people I have noticed that there are certain habits that increase the risk that you’ll experience some wrist problems now or in the future. If you regularly do any combination of the following , then I would say your at increased risk of wrist problems:
You work long hours at a computer – and your work involves twitch movements and heavy mouse usage
You are a keen gamer – and use an Xbox / PS style controller
You play the guitar – I would extend this to any musical instrument that requires a high level of manual manipulation
I have a few friends who combined some or all of the above activities and they have often suffer wrist problems. It doesn’t take a genius to see why. All of these activities are placing a huge strain on the wrist joints that when added up over days, months and years can take their toll.
Perhaps you recognise yourself in the above list. If so, even if you don’t suffer from any issues right now, you should be aware of them and try to moderate your behaviour. Perhaps using an alternative mouse design is a good idea. Prevention is better than cure as they say.
It may seem a radical shift to make, especially if you don’t have an immeadiate issues. People often wrongly assume that it’s a major bind to use such a strange looking mouse. They think it will slow them down. My experience has been the opposite. After about 15 minutes you’ll become fully accustomed to your new hand position, and after 30 minutes, acheive the same level of accuracy and speed that you had with a traditional mouse. The Evoluent mouse has many programmable buttons that can be mapped to the keyboard, at an OS and application level. It can actually really help speed up your workflow by eliminating the need to keep manually hitting the keyboard short-cuts.
The only drawback I would say with this mouse is the price. It is not cheap when compared to your average consumer run-of-the mill mouse. However this is a serious issue and deserves some spend. Buying a new set of wrists is not an option.
It can be hard to find an Evoluent mouse in stock at your local stores (at least in Europe). So I recommend you try your luck shopping online. Sometimes older models are sold at discounted rates.
Check the link below for Evoluent’s website. There’s lots of information about what the actual design does to prevent wrist damage.