Researchers at Harvard University have found that the RollerMouse device significantly improved the posture of the hand wrist, and shoulder compared to a conventional mouse, while performing tasks at a computer workstation. The study compared the RollerMouse to a conventional mouse, trackball and touchpad; it was determined that the RollerMouse had the greatest effect in reducing muscle effort in the forearm. Subjects also reported the RollerMouse to be easy to use with the least discomfort while performing tasks.
Abstract (taken from the report, presented at Applied Ergonomic Conference 2013, March 19, 2013):
The goal of this study was to evaluate the effect of different types of computer pointing devices and placements on posture and muscle activity of the hand and arm. A repeated measures laboratory study with 12 adults (6 males 6 females) was performed where participants completed two mouse-intensive tasks while using a generic mouse, a trackball, a stand-alone touchpad, and a roller-mouse. An optical motion analysis system and an electromyography system monitored right upper extremity postures and muscle activity respectively. Roller-mouse associated with a more neutral hand posture (including lower inter-fingertip spread, finger extension) along with significantly lower forearm extensor muscle activity. Centrally located pointing devices (the touchpad and the roller-mouse) were associated with significantly more neutral shoulder postures and reduced ulnar deviation. In addition, significantly lower forearm extensor muscle activities were observed for these two devices. Despite being unfamiliar with the device, users reported that the roller-mouse was not more difficult to use than the other devices. These results show that both device design and location illicit significantly different postures and forearm muscle activities during use; and suggest that hand posture metrics may be important when critically evaluating pointing devices and their association with musculoskeletal disorders.
Please note: This study was presented on March 19th at the 2013 Applied Ergonomics Conference. It is still in the peer review process and will be updated and changed as needed.