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Apple’s Mighty Mouse causes RSI symptoms

Recently I’ve bought a new PowerMac G5, with which I’m very happy. With it came Apple’s latest pointing device innovation the Apple Mighty Mouse. The mouse itself is pretty cool and the vertical/horizontal scrolling wheel is working fine. But after 3 days my lower arm started aching. At first I thought it might be a problem with my desk because I’ve got a lot of stuff on it and so there isn’t much space for me to move the mouse comfortably. I switched back to my old Logitech Pilot Wheel Mouse Optical also because I wanted to know if it worked with my Mac. After a while I missed the vertical scrolling and the additional fourth mouse button of my Mighty Mouse. So I switched back to it. Only two days later my arm started aching again even after I had made room on my desk to let my arm rest on it.

It felt strange to me that such a well designed Mouse should cause RSI symptoms. It had to be me, Apple wouldn’t design a mouse that could cause such problems. So I did some research on the web to see if there were other users just like me.

And little did I know, Apple did some pretty bad design in case of this mouse. Here are some of the quotes I found which prove I’m not the only person suffering from bad ergonomics.

“I had high hopes for Apple’s first effort beyond the single button, but find their design favors form over ergonomics. I have RSI (repetition strain injury) problems in my right arm/hand from years of computer use, so mouse selection is a serious thing for me, and I am cognizant of the design errors that make constantly used devices dangerous.
….
I realize that my particular RSI problems may be unique, but I cannot recommend this mouse to anyone with existing RSI injuries or a concern over developing them. While it may not be stylish to use little switches that click when gently pressed, or larger rolling wheels, I’ll gladly pass on the clean lines of the Mighty Mouse to protect my health.”

Scott K

“After using the mouse for 3 days now, the report isn’t positive overall. The ball is wonderful. However, the single clicker means that an operation that I do at least daily with my Intellimouse: Expose desktop (button 4), get file, Expose all windows (Middle scroll wheel button), drop into document, is impossible, due to the button being depressed and accepting no more clicks.
This is a minor complaint, compared to the thing giving me RSI in 3 days! The way the mouse forces you to raise your left finger, combined with the angle and position of the scrollball causes my finger tension. After adjusting the hand position, it was still uncomfortable. I have never experienced this before with any mouse, and I can only attribute it to the ‘Mighty Mouse’.”

Alastair Jardine

“The problem with keeping your left finger in the air is that it requires you to constantly keep one of the tendons in your arm under stress, this eventually will lead to RSI or some other issue with your wrist or arm.”
Rory Prior

“The first time I used it for a length of time I had bad RSI type pains in my forearm just below the elbow! So sadly it had to go.
I love the design and had no problems with the buttons which are deeply cool, I just couldn’t take the pain.”

David Hughes

“Mighty Mouse gave me RSI within 48 hours. And it has stuck.”
low-fi, arstechnica forum

“Since Apple’s Mighty Mouse requires your index finger to not be touching the mouse to perform a right click, my index finger was not able to rest naturally (and yes, I was holding it correctly). I must tell you, I have been an opponent of the Mighty Mouse for this very reason since I first got it in early August on an impulse buy. As I further ventured into the game not paying much attention to my hand, that usual “I need a rest” feeling turned painful. I then quit the game and took a break to go stretch my hands. Much to my dismay, my hand was still hurting. It is now Sunday and the pain has not gone away.”
Trent Lapinski

These are just some of the quotes I found when searching for RSI related problems and Apple’s Mighty Mouse. I’m now using my Logitech Pilot Wheel Mouse Optical again, which served me fine for years now without any pain involved using it.

2 Responses to “Apple’s Mighty Mouse causes RSI symptoms”

  1. Former Apple Designer/Engineer says:

    The worst part about the Magic Mouse is its flat design thus destroying any hope of something coming close to the required wrist neutral design key to lessening and avoiding RSI problems. I have to wonder what in the hell they were thinking re this design where the curve of the mouse is concerned!

  2. Sam Hearn says:

    We now have 3x cases of RSI after switching to Apple Might Mouse. I reckon it’s going to be like the ‘Opti-grab’ in The Jerk (with Steve Martin) where he makes millions selling glasses that then make every boss eyed.