A comparison of upper body and limb postures across technology and handheld device use in college students

J Phys Ther Sci. 2018 Oct;30(10):1293-1300. doi: 10.1589/jpts.30.1293. Epub 2018 Oct 12.


[Purpose] People using technology and handheld devices adopt postures of the upper limb and neck that could result in musculoskeletal pathology. Previous research has explored the postures assumed during isolated use of technology devices, such as a smartphone, however a comparison of posture assumed between multiple devices has not been completed. The purpose of this study was to compare the posture of the upper body and limb between handheld devices and technology. [Participants and Methods] Twenty one healthy college students completed this study. Pictures of participants were taken in a neutral posture and as they performed standard tasks with 3 devices (mobile phone, tablet, laptop). A mobile application calculated sagittal and coronal plane posture variables, which were compared between device conditions with an ANOVA and post-hoc tests. [Results] Head translation and angulation and shoulder angulation varied significantly between conditions in both planes. Shoulder translation varied significantly between conditions in the sagittal plane. Rib translation varied significantly between conditions in the coronal plane. Tablet use produced postures that were statistically different than the other devices. [Conclusion] Use of each device altered posture however, frequent, regular use of a tablet may produce greater deleterious effects than regular use of other handheld devices/technology.

Keywords: Ergonomics; Posture; Technology.