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Ind Health. 2008 Jul;46(3):289-97.

Effects of the height of ball-backrest on head and shoulder posture and trunk muscle activity in VDT workers.

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Department of Physical Therapy, College of Biomedical Science and Engineering, Inje University, 607 Obangdong, Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do, 621-749 Republic of Korea.


This study was designed to elucidate the effects of a ball-backrest at different heights on the head and shoulder posture and neck and trunk muscles of visual display terminal (VDT) workers who adopted a forward head posture when working at a VDT. Twenty-three VDT workers with forward head posture performed the keyboard typing work at a VDT without and with a ball-backrest at the L3, T10, and T4 levels. Surface electromyograms were recorded from the neck, shoulder, and trunk muscles, and the forward head angle and forward shoulder angle were analyzed using a 3-D motion analysis system. The significance of differences for the ball-backrest at different heights was tested by repeated one-way ANOVA, with the significance cutoff set at p=0.05. The mean forward head angle and forward shoulder angle decreased in the order of no backrest, T10-level ball-backrest, T4-level ball-backrest. Compared with not using a backrest, the activity of midcervical muscles was significantly lower and that of the lower trapezius was significantly higher when using a T4-level ball-backrest, and the activity of the internal oblique abdominal muscle was significantly higher when using a T10-level ball-backrest. We suggested that using T4 and T10-level ball-backrests would produce similar effects to active exercise, such as ball exercise for trunk stabilization, and that a ball-backrest would prevent kinematics changes. Therefore, the height of the backrest must be determined on the basis of the characteristics of work-related musculoskeletal disorders when applying a ball-backrest to VDT workers with such disorders.

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