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Using your mouse or keyboard with less pain and effort

Ania Ciechanowski

Ania Ciechanowski

Senior Clinician Occupational Therapist – Assistive...

World Arthritis Day is on October 12th 2022. Arthritis Australia reports that 1 in 7 Australians live with arthritis. That is 3.6 million people whose day to day life activities and roles are affected by the challenges that arthritis brings including pain, fatigue and limitations in movement. 

For many of us, using computer or tablet technology is a part of daily life - for work, managing our household and finances, researching and learning, keeping connected with our friends and family and for entertainment. 

When using a mouse and keyboard or touchscreen it is important to consider strategies and equipment that will reduce joint stress and pain and help with management of fatigue. 

Seating and positioning

While many people will have a good ergonomically designed chair and workstation at their workplace, this is not necessarily the case at home. 

When working, studying or using the computer for any activity at home it is equally important to have a supportive, comfortable chair as well as the monitor / screen being in a position that doesn’t require strain or twisting. 

The keyboard, mouse or touchscreen need to be positioned where they are comfortable to reach, while still allowing you to have the support of your chair. 

Taking Breaks

Trying to find a balance between being engaged in an activity and taking rest breaks can be challenge especially when you are racing to get things done or if the activity is so riveting, it’s hard to tear yourself away! If it’s hard to keep track of time, try using a timer or set reminders on your phone, computer/tablet or your Smart Home Assistant by asking Alexa, Siri or Google to remind you to take a break at a certain time. There are great reminder apps that you can download that will annoy you by popping up on the screen to tell you it’s time to stretch/drink water/rest. 

Depending on what a day in your life looks like, it may be possible to think about planning a schedule for the day, where you get a mix of tasks that require sitting, standing or moving around. 

Mouse alternatives and strategies 

Mouse use, though it doesn’t look like a lot of work, can require sustained holding of an arm position and lots of repeated movements. For some people it may help to:

  • Increase pointer speed
  • Set single click options in the Windows operating system
  • Use keyboard commands instead of mouse actions
  • Use a specially designed ergonomic mouse 

Keyboard alternatives and strategies

Keyboard use by its nature is repetitive and requires us to hold our hands up above the keyboard. Apart from making sure that the keyboard is at the right height, it may help to:

  • Use a light touch keyboard
  • Have a small keyboard to reduce reach
  • Use your voice (dictation) to write, instead of typing

You can find great tips for managing day to day tasks in the Arthritis Australia booklet At home with arthritis: simple steps for managing in the home.

ComTEC can help you find out more about how assistive technology alternatives and strategies can support you to get your jobs done or to have fun. To find out more about our library and advisory services, book a call

You can have a look at some of our Library keyboards and mouse options you could try at home.

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ComTEC is a team of allied health professionals who specialise in communication technology.

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