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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337

Abstract

HOUGH, Petronella Aletta  and  NEL, Mariette. Postural risks and musculoskeletal discomfort of three preferred positions during laptop use amongst students. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2017, vol.47, n.1, pp.3-8. ISSN 2310-3833.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2310-3833/2017/v47n1a2.

The need to access information technology in modern day occupations has encouraged the use of laptops on a daily basis. It is assumed that using a laptop in a static position over a prolonged period of time may cause postural risk as well as musculoskeletal discomfort. A previous study identified 3 most preferred positions assumed during laptop use. This study investigates the postural risk involved during laptop use by students while assuming these 3 preferred positions. It also investigates the musculoskeletal discomfort experienced by students during laptop use as well as the methods students employ to alleviate this discomfort. A quantitative, cross-sectional study design was used amongst a sample of 72 third year academic students from the University of the Free State. Data were collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire and the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment tool (RULA). For all 3 positions, 69.1% of participants scored in the postural risk category 3-4, indicating a low postural risk. Most participants (62.5%, n=45) experienced musculoskeletal discomfort with regard to pain or numbness, stiffness and spasms with 95% CI for prevalence [51.0%; 72.8%]. Stiffness in the neck was experienced by 47.2% (n=34) participants and spasms in the neck experienced by 44.4% (n=32). Tendencies and statistical significant differences are indicated between genders for adaptations made during laptop use. A recommendation for further study could be to investigate the postural risk involved while the students assume their most preferred posture within the 3 positions.

Keywords : laptop; university students; Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA); postural risk; musculoskeletal discomforts.

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