Kinematic and electromyographic differences between mouse and touchpad use on laptop computers

Carmela Conte, Alberto Ranavolo, Mariano Serrao, Alessio Silvetti, Giancarlo Orengo, Silvia Mari, Federico Forzano, Sergio Iavicoli, Francesco Draicchio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Numerous studies have compared the postures and muscular activities induced by the various input devices available. To the authors' knowledge, no studies have yet compared upper body posture and movement, sEMG activity and muscle co-contractions induced by use of a mouse or of a touchpad. Objective: The aim of this study was to compare posture, joint excursion and sEMG activity when using a laptop equipped with a mouse or a touchpad. Methods: Trunk and upper arm posture, ranges of motion and muscle activities were measured in ten subjects during two standardized tasks. Results: Mouse use induced larger shoulder abduction than touchpad use. On the other hand, when a touchpad was used, the upper arm joints were bound and fixed to a greater extent than during mouse use. Touchpad users are forced to maintain a more static posture. The upper arm electromyography results clearly indicate that touchpad use requires more stabilization than mouse use. Conclusion: Motor tasks executed by means of the mouse allow a greater range of motions and reduce the biomechanical stress thanks to the greater postural mobility, even though the posture is less neutral. The results of our study tend to suggest that an external mouse should be preferred to the touchpad by frequent users of laptops. Relevance to industry: This study is a suggestion for IT companies to give customers information of possible advantages using an external mouse. Furthermore our data highlight the importance of providing a mouse to all laptop users in order to reduce biomechanical risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-420
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Electromyography
  • Kinematic
  • Mouse
  • Muscular co-activity
  • Posture
  • Touchpad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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