An international research team has conducted a study aimed at assessing the ergonomic risk of smartphone use – and the results are not pretty.
The research team, supervised by Rose Boucaut from the University of South Australia, evaluated the correlation between musculoskeletal disorders and smartphone use.
30 participants were given the task to sit down with their devices and text while their postures were being video recorded.
Three independent researchers evaluated the clips to determine the level of ergonomic risk using an observation-based screening tool called RULA (Rapid Upper Limb Assessment), a tool widely utilised to assess the postural risk created by using electronic devices.
The team found that poor posture while using a smartphone posed a significant risk of neck and upper back musculoskeletal disorders.
“The RULA results identified the high ergonomics risk of smartphone users, this resulted from two key risk factors: posture and muscle use,” reads the paper.
“The neck, trunk and leg postures had a combined effect on neck musculoskeletal disorders. Future investigations should consider these factors when designing ergonomic interventions for smartphone users.”
So it does seem “text neck” is a real thing after all. Being glued to our personal little ‘black mirror’ places stress on the spine and alters the neck’s natural curve, which in turn, dangerously increases the likelihood of injury.
This study is not the only one to point out the negative impact that texting has on our health.
A separate study from 2017, also involving the University of South Australia, studied a group of 779 undergraduate smartphone users in Thailand to determine a link between neck disorders and phone use.
Guess what? They also found that high prevalence of neck pain and other musculoskeletal disorders derived from smartphone use.
You can check out Ergonomic risk assessment of smartphone users using the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) tool and Factors associated with neck disorders among university student smartphone users for the full findings of the studies.
[Feature image by RawPixel]