Mouse alternatives for someone with Parkinson's
June 11, 2009 1:04 PM   Subscribe

My 83-year-old grandfather, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's a couple of years ago, has just started using a computer. He finds it hard to control the mouse. What are his options?

A couple of months ago, my grandfather bought a laptop and started using it a bit for internet banking, news and e-mails. However, he finds it very hard to control the mouse. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's very recently and at an old age, so his hand tremors are not very bad.

I am living in Paris and will soon be going back to Brazil. As those things are generally (much) less expensive here, I thought of shopping around for mouse alternatives. He does not seem to like the trackpad on the laptop, by the way. So, I thought maybe a trackball or a tablet with pen would be a better fit for him (he can still write quite well).

The catch: I wanted to be fairly certain as of what to buy, because he cannot test it before hand and we will not be able to return the product if it is not better than his mouse.

Any suggestions of what to buy? Pointing what type and brand exactly would be nice. My budget is around 50-80 euros, I hope it is reasonable.
posted by natalinha to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It looks like it hasn't been updated in a couple of years, but I found this - SteadyMouse.

SteadyMouse is free software designed by a couple of geeks to assist people with the hand tremors that commonly go along with Parkinson's disease, Multiple sclerosis, etc.
# Major Features: Anti-tremor mouse filtering
# Removal of accidental mouse clicks
# Assistive "Icon Targeting" system
# Quick enable/disable using the scroll lock key
# Simple design for easy configuration
posted by zamboni at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Windows has a lot of accessibility options built into it. What about a simple USB mouse, then just lower the sensitivity ("pointer speed" in Vista) on it? Lower the resolution on the screen a bit so he doesn't have to target things as finely. Slow down the double-click speed a bit, too.

This works fairly well for someone I work with who is seventy-six. She's never going to be much of a typist, but she does well with the mouse.
posted by adipocere at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2009

Assistive Mouse Adapter.
posted by zamboni at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2009

Another free solution for XP, from IBM Research - Mouse Smoothing.
posted by zamboni at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2009

Look at Kensington Expert Mouse, a squash- or tennis-ball sized trackball. It's big, so manipulating it is easier, and you can take your hand off the ball while you click so you don't inadvertently displace the cursor. One of the software mouse smoothing solutions would seem to combine well with it.

(Happy longtime user; no other connection).
posted by TruncatedTiller at 1:32 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I bought this (same as Zamboni's link) for my dad whom we thought had Parkinson's, but it turned out he had Lewy-body Dementia, and so it didn't really help. So YMMV. But it's a high-quality piece. Also, requires a mouse port (not USB.)
posted by davejay at 2:34 PM on June 11, 2009

I wouldn't bother with the tablet because it would be easy to tap the screen inadvertently and trying to hover/sidebutton-rightclick over links or folders can be a pain in the ass for some people.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:43 PM on June 11, 2009

n'ing TruncatedTiller. Those things are great and I've seen them used both with seniors and with children.
posted by alona at 3:20 PM on June 11, 2009

Thank you all. I will look into the Kensington Expert Mouse, and I will stop worrying about tablets. For the time being, I'll have my brother to take a look at the mouse sensitivity and the software options listed above.
posted by natalinha at 1:24 AM on June 12, 2009

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