Over the past couple months I’ve read several questions by fellow quadriplegics at the CareCure and Apparelyzed Spinal Cord Injury forums about what mouse to use and how to set it up to work best for a quadriplegic. Not saying that my setup is the absolute best or anything, but it is the trial and error outcome of many different combinations over the past 5 years, and definitely what works best for me.
What I use for my mouse / getting around the screen duties is a Kensington Expert Trackball mouse. Looking at the picture below, you’ll see it’s little more than a very large plastic trackball centered between 4 large, easily clickable buttons.
The way I use it is with the meaty thumb area of my right hand to accurately move the mouse this way and that, and then slide my hand off the ball to smack the bottom left, bottom right, and top right mouse buttons. I choose not to use the top left mouse button because it’s at an awkward angle and very easy for me to unintentionally move the mouse.
I have the normal “left” and “right” mouse button click actions switched so that the bottom right trackball button is actually a “left click” and the bottom left trackball button a “right click” because it is more natural for my hand to slide off to the right to click the bottom right mouse button and a normal “left click” is the most often used mouse action. I have the ClickLock function turned on for the bottom right trackball button (which corresponds to the normal “left click” mouse action) so that I can drag the mouse cursor across the computer. The top right mouse button is used as a “go back” function that I often use while navigating the web browser and file explorer. I’ll go into more details about how the mouse is configured below:
In Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7 go to the Control Panel and select the Mouse icon
Click the Switch primary and secondary buttons checkbox to switch your left/right mouse buttons
Click the Turn on ClickLock checkbox to enable highlighting and dragging without holding the mouse button.
Click settings next to this to Adjust how long you need to hold down a mouse or trackball button before your click is “locked.” I normally like to set this most of the way to the left so that I don’t have to wait too long to lock my click.
Now, when you press and hold a mouse button it will stay clicked until you press it again. This makes it very easy to drag/resize windows, highlight text in documents, move files from one folder to another, pretty much anything where you need to hold down the mouse button.