Gravitational demand on the neck musculature during tablet computer use

Tablet computer use requires substantial head and neck flexion, which is a risk factor for neck pain. The goal of this study was to evaluate the biomechanics of the head–neck system during seated tablet computer use under a variety of conditions. A physiologically relevant variable, gravitational demand (the ratio of gravitational moment due to the weight of the head to maximal muscle moment capacity), was estimated using a musculoskeletal model incorporating subject-specific size and intervertebral postures from radiographs. Gravitational demand in postures adopted during tablet computer use was 3–5 times that of the neutral posture, with the lowest demand when the tablet was in a high propped position. Moreover, the estimated gravitational demand could be correlated to head and neck postural measures (0.48 < R2 < 0.64, p < 0.001). These findings provide quantitative data about mechanical requirements on the neck musculature during tablet computer use and are important for developing ergonomics guidelines.

Source: Anita N. Vasavada, Derek D. Nevins, Steven M. Monda, Ellis Hughes & David C. Lin. Ergonomics, 2015.

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