Notebook computer use on a desk, lap and lap support: effects on posture, performance and comfort

Ergonomics. 2010 Jan;53(1):74-82. doi: 10.1080/00140130903389043.


This study quantified postures of users working on a notebook computer situated in their lap and tested the effect of using a device designed to increase the height of the notebook when placed on the lap. A motion analysis system measured head, neck and upper extremity postures of 15 adults as they worked on a notebook computer placed on a desk (DESK), the lap (LAP) and a commercially available lapdesk (LAPDESK). Compared with the DESK, the LAP increased downwards head tilt 6 degrees and wrist extension 8 degrees . Shoulder flexion and ulnar deviation decreased 13 degrees and 9 degrees , respectively. Compared with the LAP, the LAPDESK decreased downwards head tilt 4 degrees , neck flexion 2 degrees , and wrist extension 9 degrees. Users reported less discomfort and difficulty in the DESK configuration. Use of the lapdesk improved postures compared with the lap; however, all configurations resulted in high values of wrist extension, wrist deviation and downwards head tilt. STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE: This study quantifies postures of users working with a notebook computer in typical portable configurations. A better understanding of the postures assumed during notebook computer use can improve usage guidelines to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Man-Machine Systems*
  • Microcomputers*
  • Posture*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Upper Extremity
  • Young Adult