So You Want to Be Completely Free from Mouse Related Pain and Injuries?"

-- Here are some facts you must know before it's too late.

by Yong Yan, Inventor of Touchless Mouse

Why there are so many alternative pointing devices out there? From ergonomically shaped mouse to trackball, from pen-tablet to hands-free head motion detector, each one of them try to avoid some pain for you. The truth is that none of them can stop the hurting completely. Doesn't it make you furious that after saving enough money to buy an expensive alternative pointing device, it makes another part of your body injured and painful.

As you read every word of this article, you will discover the scientific reason of why it hurts and how to choose a pointing device that can set you free, free from the pain and injuries that millions of computer users are experiencing everyday.

How can a mouse hurt you?

If you are already injured or have arthritis in your upper limbs, any forces acting on your hand can be painful. Forces acting on the inflamed tendons, or shocking and twisting forces acing on a swelling wrist are the experience that everyone would like to avoid.

But using mouse can also be a major cause of Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) which may lead to arthritis and chronic pains. Many mouse users suffer from pain and injuries in the fingers, hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, and neck, and sometimes even the spine. Each year, more than 2.5 million Americans visit doctors and seek help for their RSIs. Among them, some of the most serious injuries that Dr. Emil Pascarelli has seen have come from mouse use. Dr. Pascarelli, One of the world's leading authorities on RSI, who has treated over 6,000 RSI patients and is famous for his books on RSI, said once that "We couldn't find a single mouse or trackball we felt was safe to use for extended periods of time."

Will a new alternative bring you some new problems?

There have been continued efforts to bring out new pointing devices that can be a pain free alternative to mouse. However, mouse related pains can widely spread from fingers all the way to the neck and spine, including every joint and muscle in between. What's more challenging is that the hurting is often activity and posture generated and is related to the user interface software and connection to the host computer.

Most of the alternatives have been developed to address one or two painful spots or issues. For example, the widely used trackball can avoid the gripping forces on hand and reduce the bending of the wrist, but it does not address the problems caused by clicking force on fingers, repetitive motion of hand, and the posture issue on the arm and shoulder.

Some of them may cause new trouble or even more serious issues. For example, the head motion detector mouse or HeadMouse can be used for pointing without using hand at all. But frequent use of it may cause neck to be strained as the neck muscles need to move the head to move the cursor. It is true that your hand may be safer now, but a strained neck may cause the nerves passing through it to be injured and causes much more trouble to your body, and sometimes, the hands also suffer. A fairly complete list of alternative pointing devices can be found at http://eeshop.unl.edu/prod.html

If so many attempts have been tried and only solved part of the problem, does Starfish Pointer stand up to its claim as a pain free alternative to mouse? Well, it can be as free as you want if you understand what's really going on inside your body when the injury is happening.

What��s going on inside your body?

Let's take a closer look at your body from the cellular level up to the system level. The basic and simplest unit of the human body that retains the functions characteristic to life is a cell. The muscles, bones, nerves, and connective tissues are all made up of cells. A cell is enclosed by a membrane as its boundary. Inside a cell are some organelles that work like factories to produce energy and materials to keep the cell alive. Outside the cell are solutions of nutrients to supply to the cell and the waste disposed by the cell. The local circulation continuously brings in fresh nutrients and ships out the waste. The fluid inside a cell is very different from the outside. The cell membrane creates and maintains these differences by establishing a permeability barrier around the cell. Cells must receive nutrients in order to function, and they must dispose of metabolic waste products to stay healthy.

The fluid environment surrounding each cell is called the internal environment of the body. A stable internal environment is essential for normal cell function and survival of the organism. The change of this internal environment can only be very limited and temporary to avoid harmful effect for the cell's health and normal functions.


Imagine this cell being squeezed.

However, when a small portion of the body is under pressure, several things may take place: the cells are pressed, the organelles are under pressure, and the membranes become strained. While how the organelles work at different pressures deserve more research, it has been found that changes of mechanical loads can have a significant effect on cartilage breakdown. In addition, the strained membranes reduce their permeability and cause the nutrients hard to get in cells and the waste hard to get out. The extracellular fluid is squeezed away from the cells under pressure and reduces the nutrient supply to the local cells. The local circulation is also reduced because the local micro vessels are pressed and tight. When the nerve cells are pressed, the signal transmission can be blocked and the regulation of the activities of local organism is reduced.

So, when the internal environment is disturbed, the cells can not get sufficient supplies to maintain normal functions, neither can it get rid off the metabolic waste fast enough. If such pressure is small and temporary, the cell has enough buffering mechanism to bounce back to its normal level. But if the pressure is sustained for an extended period, or repeatedly on and off, the cells may not be able to rebound back to its normal state, and the cells may undergo pathological changes, i.e., they become damaged and cause pain and injuries. Obviously the injuries are more likely to happen to those who are weak and whose circulation is slow.

You see what cause hurting are the sustained or repeated pressure points inside the body. When you evaluate a device, look for such pressure points it may bring to your body on a system scale. It has to be searched on a large scale because a single action such as pressing down a mouse button involves multiple muscles, bone segments, and joints, and the nerve cells involved are also stretched. So the pressure points may occur in places more than the finger tip that's in direct contact with the button. And the physiologically weakest point, usually not the finger tip, may break and hurt first.

3 major factors to consider:

On the macroscopic scale experience level, ergonomists have summarized the causes of RSIs into 3 aspects:

  1. Forces acted on the body. The forces are the origin of the pressure points. The bigger the force, the deeper and larger the pressed region.
  2. Repetitive Motion. When the joints are carrying out movements, forces are exerted by the muscles on the segments of bones to push and pull the bone segments. The tendon cells or the connective tissues are under repetitive forces and pressure points.
  3. Static and Rigid Postures. The posture issue is a little more involved. It is easy to identify awkward postures such as bending of a wrist that puts big pressure on the nerves, blood vessels, and connective issues that run across the joint. However, even if the posture is recommended "standard" and "comfortable", injuries may still be imminent if the posture can not be changed easily during the operation of the device. We need to look at the human body in a whole to understand this point.

It may hurt if your hands need to be kept on a desktop.

Actually, in the operation of any device that's on a desktop, a particular posture issue arises. When the arm is raised or stretched out, the joints of the shoulder, neck, and spine are all bent and multiple pressure points are formed along all these joints to maintain such a posture. Before long, the weakest point may have pathological changes and bring on pain and injury.

"Correct" and "Comfortable" postures may not be safe if it can not be changed frequently.

What if you can let your upper arms straight down and forearms level as recommended by some consultants? Will you be pain free and injury free? Hardly not! The human body is a skeletal structure that utilizes muscles to connect different parts and sustain a height away from the ground. However, every cell of the body is pulled down by gravity toward the earth, and every part of the body is supported by the part below it, and the force on a lower part is equal to the summed weight of all the parts above it. For example, in the standard recommended posture, the arms naturally fall down and the forces on the shoulder joints are just the weight of the arms. Normally, the body is frequently changing positions to switch the pressed pivot points to different spots so that various bearing points can get chances to recover and the local circulation can get around the tight region. However, if the use of a device requires maintaining a static posture, injury is ensured if the user can not take frequent breaks from using the device. If a change of posture is not easily achievable, it may hurt no matter how comfortable" the static posture is.

What should you look for?

Therefore, when you evaluate a device for the purpose of avoiding injuries, pay close attention to these 3 factors and ask some questions:

  1. Does this device reduce significantly or eliminate the forces acted on the body?
  2. Does this device reduce significantly or eliminate repetitive motion of the body?
  3. Does this device allow easy changes of the posture?

A no to any of these questions suggests that some part of the body may still be hurt upon using the device.

It is obviously not easy to design a device that can reduce or eliminate all the 3 causes of injuries. Most alternative devices, such as trackball or ergonomic mouse only target a portion of the causes. Actually, most of the alternatives only reduce the forces on fingers, or reduce the bending and twisting of the wrist and, few people realize the hazard to the shoulder and neck.

Touchless Mouse eliminates all the causes for pain.


It simply takes the pain away, and yet easier to use than mouse.

Touchless Mouse is designed from ground up to address all these issues. To use a Touchless Mouse, you can use your finger, or an ordinary pen like the cheap BIC round stick to point at holes a few millimeters above them to do functions that a mouse does. You point at a hole in a ring to move the cursor at the radial direction. You raise your finger several millimeters higher off the hole to stop the movement. You can also point at the center hole to stop any cursor movement. You point at a hole corresponding to a mouse button the depress the button, and move your finger off the hole to release it. There are also two holes to perform scrolling function of a wheel. Our research has shown that extended and continued use of it doesn't have to cause injuries. This is because:

  1. Your hand and fingers no longer touch the hard surface and eliminates the reactive forces on fingers and hands.
  2. You can rest your hand when the cursor runs. The alternating resting and small movements of the hand can give enough respond time to any pressure points.
  3. You can use many comfortable and flexible postures, and can change easily without breaking the train of work.

What these features mean to you is that you no longer have to bear the pain of moving and clicking, and don't have to be tired using a pointing device, and can reduce one factor for deforming your neck and spine. Touchless Mouse is a step further of our previous product, Starfish Pointer towards a pain free pointing. Peter Abrahams, a researcher of accessibility and usability researcher, calls Starfish Pointer "the effortless pointing device." For Touchless Mouse, the effort is even less than Starfish Pont because you don't even have to hold a pen at all.

What's possible now?

Are you beginning to see how a Touchless Mouse can put you in a pain free place where the mouse or other alternatives bring you the strains and injuries? Imagine what it would be like if you could use computers freely without pain and injuries: feeling no pain, saving the money and time from treatment, career advances as you are more happy and productive ... How would you like it if you can open bottles and preparing food just like before you were injured? Don't you love the significant change of the quality of your life? What would that be worth to you?

A characteristic of a gradually developed RSI is that when the causes are eliminated, the recovery process will start. The damaged cells will either die and give space to new born cells, or rebound to the normal state as soon as the internal environment returns normal. Touchless Mouse is the only pointing device that's designed to eliminate all the pressure points on your body. So using a Touchless Mouse can let you avoid pain and further injuries from pointing. Do you want to let your injured cells and tissues start healing now?

A pain free future starts here!

Wishing you a pain free life,

Yong Yan
President of LightIO