New Study Helps To Define Postural Challenges With Tablet Use

Applied Ergonomics


Many of us use handheld devices (phones, tablets), and many people get into awkward positions and stay there for extended periods of time (Been stuck at an airport lately, or on a long flight?  How did you keep busy?).  It doesn’t take long to feel the impact.  As we see more and more studies that validate the issues around extended use of our mobile devices, it provides opportunities to educate ourselves, our families, and the people we work with.

A study recently published by Ethan Douglas and Kaitlin Gallagher in Applied Ergonomics (Volume 60, 2017) showed that reading a tablet in a semi-reclined position with the tablet in the lap increased flexion at the neck significantly.  We know this, as we have either experienced it or we’ve certainly seen it in others.  As safety and ergonomics professionals however, we like to see our field experiences quantified in the literature.  So, straighten up!

Although they made it clear that more research needs to be done in this area, one of the study’s recommendations was to “find a middle ground between a large semi-reclined seated angle and upright sitting with a tablet in their lap”.  Sometimes easier said than done, but we need to give it a try.  Here are some additional opportunities:

  • Use a stand (don’t hold the device)
  • Bring it up a bit if possible
  • Sit well supported
  • Change positions frequently – avoid static, awkward postures for prolonged periods of time

Ergonomic Focus is dedicated to helping clients find solutions to everyday issues.  Don’t forget to stop by and see us at the Joint Technical Symposium in Carson at The Carson Center, on October 18, 2017!


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