Electronic tablets can cause head, neck pain: study

February 1, 2012

Cambridge, MA – Media tablet computer users may be at high risk of developing discomfort based on current behaviors and tablet designs, according to a study (.pdf file) conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Microsoft Corp. and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Researchers measured head and neck postures in four different configurations: on the lap and held with the hands, on the lap and in a case, on a table and in a case, and on a table and in a case set at a high angle. The 15 adults who participated browsed and read Internet material, read and responded to emails, played games, or watched movies, according to the study.

Study authors reported that users tend to bend their head and neck more frequently when using shallower configuration angles while viewing either of two tablets used in the study. Researchers suggested that head and neck posture may be improved by placing tablets higher to avoid low-gaze angles and by using a case to provide optimal viewing angles.

The study was published in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation.