The Evoluent vertical mouse is probably the most popular and successful ‘alternative’ type of mouse available on the market today. When looking at its design, it looks like a regular mouse that is shifted upwards 90 degrees. From a usability perspective it is very similar to a traditional mouse making it familiar, intuitive and requiring no training to master.
Design. The Evoluent, available in either left or right handed versions, limits the amount of pronation (palm down postures) when compared to a traditional mouse design. Pronation is considered to be an awkward posture and can be quite problematic for a lot of people. This mouse holds the hand in a ‘handshake’ position which is a neutral posture.
Who does this mouse benefit the most?
If any of these sound familiar to you AND you have discomfort, then an Evoluent mouse could be useful to you!
All of the above scenarios can become quite painful overtime. When using the Evoluent mouse, if you were to draw a line from your wrist to forearm, you would see that it is perfectly straight. This is one of the major benefits to using the Evoluent mouse: it keeps the wrist neutral and in line with the forearm, meaning less exposure to risk factors (awkward wrist postures) and thereby less discomfort overtime. So, with this in mind, its not surprising that this mouse tends to help a lot of people.
With a traditional mouse there can be contact between the underside of the wrist and the surface of the desk. This is called soft tissue compression. With the Evoluent, the underside of the wrist is no longer in contact with the work surface (due to its 90 degree positioning), and this position eliminates soft tissue compression.
Sizing. Another benefit to the Evoluent is that there are sizing options. An ideal sized mouse will eliminate the tendency to grip the mouse too forcibly, which may be associated with overuse injuries such as tennis elbow. Be sure to visit their website, when looking at sizing, as it is important to find a mouse that will fit your hand optimally. An incorrect size could actually lead to more ergonomic risk instead of eliminating it.
Rigid Design. Due to the Evoluent’s design, you cannot switch between the left and right hand. If you wanted to use a right handed Evoluent with the left hand, then you would have to buy a left handed mouse. At over $100 per mouse, this may be limiting for some to even buy it in the first place. The reason why you would want to switch mousing hands is to limit daily strain accumulation in one hand. For some users this is very important. For those with a chronic, degenerative condition, like arthritis, switching between hands may be incredibly useful. For the ‘average’ user, switching between the left and right hands would likely not be a high priority.
Its Bulk. This device, although offers many ergonomic benefits, it is quite bulky. If you are a streamlined (very little carry-on, or carry-on is a luxury) commuter that has no pre-existing musculoskeletal concerns, then its size could be somewhat limiting. One last comment from the entire workstation optimization perspective: it is very difficult to optimize the hand working height for both the mouse and keyboard when using this mouse. Ideally, the neutral elbow height should be slightly above the height of the hand working height. Since the mouse is about 6-8 cm taller than the keyboard height (depending on the type of keyboard that is used), it can be quite difficult to find a reasonable compromise between the two, especially if the user is experiencing chronic discomfort in their shoulders. Additionally if the user has a keyboard tray, the top of the Evoluent mouse may not to fit underneath the desk when pushing in the tray.
The 90 Degree Grip. This is why I recommend all users try this mouse before purchasing. As a consultant, I have noted that some users find the 90 degree position a little too extreme and as a result, causes some discomfort.
Soft Tissue Compression. This mouse eliminates all of the the contact stress between the underside of the wrist and the work surface and shifts this to the outside (ulna) side of the hand. Some users may find that this is uncomfortable and may need to purchase a wrist rest.
Know exactly the root cause of the user’s discomfort before proceeding with this mouse. The Evoluent mouse offers many benefits to the user by the ‘handshake’ or neutral posture orientation. Under the correct circumstances, this is my personal favourite mouse to use and recommend!