A field study on spinal postures and postural variations during smartphone use among university students

Grace P.Y. Szeto, Sharon M.H. Tsang, Jie Dai, Pascal Madeleine

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This field study compared the real-time spinal movements and postural variations during smartphone-use versus non-use in university students. Ten males and eight females (mean age of 21.5 ± 2.6 years) participated, with similar daily phone use time between the two sexes. Five inertial motion sensors were attached to the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal regions, and kinematics was recorded for 3 h while participants went about their usual academic activities within the university campus. Significantly greater degrees of cervical and upper thoracic flexion were adopted during phone use versus non-use time (p < 0.01). There were also significantly greater frequency of postural variations (zero crossing per min) in all spinal regions in the sagittal plane (all p < 0.05), and in some of the movements in transverse and frontal planes comparing phone use vs non-use. The postural variables also showed some significant correlations with self-reported pre-existing neck and upper back pain scores.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103183
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Kinematics
  • Neck pain
  • Smartphone
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)

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