Two new studies by Danish researchers indicate that the risk of developing an upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) may have a direct relationship to the percentage of time spent mousing.
The studies, both presented at the 27th International Congress of Occupational Health in Brazil earlier this year, indicated that while time spent using a computer contributed to the potential for developing an MSD, the risk became even higher as the percentage of time spent using a mouse increased.
In one study, sponsored by the National Institute of Occupational Health in Copenhagen, Denmark, 3500 Danish workers who used a computer for most of the workday were studied. Of that group, those who spent at least half of their workday using a mouse were found to have four-times the risk of developing an upper-extremity MSD than the subjects who used a mouse for a quarter or less of their day.
A second study, by the Odense University Hospital in Denmark, reviewed 7000 Danish workers and determined that the workers who used a mouse for greater than 30 hours each week had eight times the risk of developing forearm pain, double the risk of developing neck pain, and triple the risk of developing shoulder pain.
While alternative mousing designs, like vertical “handshake” mice and specially-sized mice, do exist, neither study noted the type of mouse the subjects used. However, it is estimated that overall, 80 percent of Danish workers use traditionally-styled mice.
More information on pain and mousing, including suggestions for determining whether the pain is from the mouse or the workstation, and recommendations for easing potential risk factors associated with mousing, can be found in the April, 2003, issue of The Ergonomics ReportTM.
Source: News in Science, Australian Broadcasting Corporation