Researchers at the US Department of Veterans Affairs have developed a computer mouse for people who use hook prostheses. Rory Cooper, PhD, a bioengineer at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), developed the mouse after an interaction with Dave Riley, a past national commander of the veterans service organization Disabled American Veterans. Riley, who has quadruple amputations, was involved in a HERL research study at the time and suggested it to Cooper. HERL is a collaborative effort between the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the University of Pittsburgh.
The mouse is shaped like a pyramid and is elevated a few inches in the back. It has an area where the wrist of the hook can rest, a wall that prevents the prosthesis from sliding off the mouse, and two large buttons that are contoured so it’s easy for the tip of the hook to drag and click.
Riley was one of several veterans who tested the mouse. He found it to be very mobile, like a conventional mouse, and suggested improvements, such as how to give the hook more control while moving the cursor.
“The other thing we learned that was obvious, but we didn’t think about, was that some people use their left hand, some people use their right hand, and prosthetic hooks come in three sizes,” Cooper said. “That’s why we have three patents on this mouse. One’s for right-handed people, one’s for left-handed people, and one’s for a mouse that’s compatible with different size hooks.”
HERL has 3D-printed more than 100 of the mice and has sent them to several VA hospitals and medical centers and is working with VA’s Technology Transfer Program (TTP) to license the mouse for public access. Cooper estimates the cost of the device at $25.
Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by the VA Office of Research & Development.