Effects of Netbook and Tablet Usage Postures on the Development of Fatigue, Discomfort and Pain

Yassierli Yassierli, Anita Juraida


The number of people using online tablets in public places has increased dramatically. Their postures are dominantly characterized by non-neutral and awkward positions that in the long term may lead to a higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of tablet compared to laptop (i.e. netbook) usage postures on the development of fatigue, discomfort and pain. A total of 12 participants accomplished email typing tasks for 2 hours with four different usage configurations: 1) Netbook-on-table, 2) Netbook-on-lap, 3) Tablet-on-table, and 4) Tablet-on-lap. Changes in fatigue, discomfort, and pain were monitored based on pinch grip strength (tip pinch, key pinch, and palmar pinch), rating of perceived discomfort, and Phalen’s & Reverse Phalen’s tests, respectively. The results indicated that the effect of portable device placement was significant (p < 0.05), with varied effects across measurements. No effect of portable computer type was found. The interactive effect of portable computer type and placement was only significant for right tip pinch (p < 0.05). The findings of this study can hopefully be used to increase the awareness of tablet users about associated fatigue, discomfort and pain while using a tablet in public places that may lead to a higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

Full Text:



Honan, M., Mobile Work: Ergonomics in a Rapidly Changing Work Environment, Work, 52(2), pp. 289-301, 2015.

Raman, S.R., Al-Halabi, B., Hamdan, E. & Landry, M.D., Prevalence and Risk Factors Associated with Self-Reported Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) among Office Workers in Kuwait, BMC Research Notes, 5(1), p. 289, 2012.

Tseng, C.-H., Liao, C.-C., Kuo, C.-M., Sung, F.-C., Hsieh, D.P.H. & Tsai, C.-H., Medical and Non-Medical Correlates of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in a Taiwan Cohort of One Million, European Journal of Neurology, 19(1), pp. 91-97, 2012.

Gold, J.E., Driban, J.B., Yingling, V.R. & Komaroff, E., Characterization of Posture and Comfort in Laptop Users in Non-Desk Settings, Applied Ergonomics, 43(2), pp. 392-399, 2012.

Binboga, E. & Korhan, O., Posture, Musculoskeletal Activities, and Possible Musculoskeletal Discomfort among Children Using Laptops or Tablet Computers for Educational Purposes: A Literature Review, J Sci Educ Technol, 23(5), pp. 605-616, 2014.

Straker, L.M., Coleman, J., Skoss, R., Maslen, B.A., Burgess-Limerick, R. & Pollock, C.M., A Comparison of Posture And Muscle Activity During Tablet Computer, Desktop Computer and Paper Use by Young Children, Ergonomics, 51(4), pp. 540-555, 2008.

Werth, A.J. & Babski-Reeves, K., Effects of Portable Computing Devices on Posture, Muscle Activation Levels and Efficiency, Applied Ergonomics, 45(6), pp. 1603-1609, 2014.

Young, J.G., Trudeau, M., Odell, D., Marinelli, K. & Dennerlein, J.T., Touch-Screen Tablet User Configurations and Case-Supported Tilt Affect Head and Neck Flexion Angles, Work, 41(1), pp. 81-91, 2012.

Young, J.G., Trudeau, M.B., Odell, D., Marinelli, K. & Dennerlein, J.T., Wrist and Shoulder Posture and Muscle Activity during Touch-Screen Tablet Use: Effects of Usage Configuration, Tablet Type and Interacting Hand, Work, 45(1), pp. 59-71, 2013.

Bernard, B.P. (Ed), Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors: A Critical Review of Epidemiological Evidence for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Neck, Upper Extremity, And Low Back, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, 1997.

Hakala, P.T., Rimpela, A.H., Saarni, L.A. & Salminen, J.J., Frequent Computer-Related Activities Increase the Risk of Neck–Shoulder and Low Back Pain in Adolescents, European Journal of Public Health, 16(5), pp. 536-541, 2006.

Nussbaum, M.A., Static and Dynamic Myoelectric Measures of Shoulder Muscle Fatigue During Intermittent Dynamic Exertions of Low to Moderate Intensity, Eur J Appl Physiol, 85(3-4), pp. 299-309, 2001.

Yassierli, Muscle Fatigue during Isometric and Dynamic Efforts in Shoulder Abduction and Torso Extension: Age Effects and Alternative Electromyographic Measures, PhD Dissertation, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA, 2005.

Shin, G. & Zhu, X., User Discomfort, Work Posture and Muscle Activity while Using a Touchscreen in a Desktop PC Setting, Ergonomics, 54(8), pp. 733-44, 2011.

Dowler, E., Kappes, B., Fenaughty, A. & Pemberton, G., Effects of Neutral Posture on Muscle Tension during Computer Use, International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 7(1), pp. 61-78, 2001.

Asundi, K., Odell, D., Luce, A. & Dennerlein, T.J., Changes in Posture through the Use of Simple Inclines with Notebook Computers Placed on a Standard Desk, Applied Ergonomics, 43(2), pp. 400- 407, 2011.

Mathiowetzs, V., Effects of Three Trials on Grip and Pinch Strength Measurements, Journal of Hand Therapy, 3(4), pp. 195-198, 1984.

Borg, G., Psychophysical Scaling with Applications in Physical Work and the Perception of Exertion, Scand J. Work Environ Health, 16(suppl 1), pp. 55-58, 1990.

Marx, R.G., Hudak, P.L. & Bombardier, C., The Reliability of Physical Examination for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Journal of Hand Surgery, 23(4), pp. 499-502, 1998.

Chan, A.W., Hróbjartsson, A., Jørgensen, K.J, Gøtzsche, P.C. & Altman, D.G., Discrepancies in Sample Size Calculations and Data Analyses Reported in Randomized Trials: Comparison of Publication with Protocols, British Medical Journal (BMJ), 337, a2299, 2008.

Noordzij M., Tripepi G., Dekker F.W., Zoccali, C., Tanck, M.W. & Jager K.J., Sample Size Calculations: Basic Principles and Common Pitfalls, Nephrol Dial Transplant, 25(5), pp. 1388-1393, 2010.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5614%2Fj.eng.technol.sci.2016.48.3.1


  • There are currently no refbacks.