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Ergonomics. 2015;58(6):990-1004. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2015.1005166. Epub 2015 Feb 2.

Gravitational demand on the neck musculature during tablet computer use.

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a Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Washington State University , Pullman, WA , USA.


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 < R(2) < 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. Practitioner Summary: Flexed head and neck postures occur during tablet computer use and are implicated in neck pain. The mechanical demand on the neck muscles was estimated to increase 3-5 times during seated tablet computer use versus seated neutral posture, with the lowest demand in a high propped tablet position but few differences in other conditions.


biomechanics; neck muscles; posture; tablet computer

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