Effects of Using a Shoulder/Scapular Brace on the Posture and Muscle Activity of Healthy University Students during Prolonged Typing—A Randomized Controlled Cross-Over Trial

Melissa Leung, Mandy M.P. Kan, Hugo M.H. Cheng, Diana E. De Carvalho, Shahnawaz Anwer (Corresponding Author), Heng Li, Arnold Y.L. Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Laptop use appears to contribute to poor working postures and neck pain among university students. Postural braces have the potential to improve upper back/neck posture and therefore might have a role as an ergonomic aid for this population. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the short-term effects of scapular bracing on pain, fatigue, cervicothoracic posture, and the activity of the neck and upper-back muscles in healthy college students. A randomized controlled crossover trial was conducted to evaluate the self-reported pain and fatigue, the amplitude and median frequency of surface electromyography in neck extensors, upper trapezius, and lower trapezius, as well as the neck and shoulder sagittal alignment (measured by inertial sensors and digital photographs) during a 30-min typing task in a sample of young, healthy university students with or without a scapular brace. The brace condition resulted in significantly smaller levels of bilateral trapezius muscle activity (p < 0.01). Rounded shoulder posture was slightly better in the brace condition, but these differences were not significant (p > 0.05). There were no significant immediate differences in pain or fatigue scores, neck alignment, or the electromyographic activity of the other muscles tested between brace and non-brace conditions (all p > 0.05). However, bracing appears to immediately reduce the electromyographic activity of the lower trapezius muscles (p < 0.05). These findings shed some light on the possible advantages of scapular bracing for enhancing laptop ergonomics in this group of individuals. Future studies are warranted to evaluate the effects of different types of braces, the importance of matching the brace to the user, and the short- and long-term effects of brace use on computer posture and muscle activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1555
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Volume11
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2023

Keywords

  • ergonomics
  • fatigue
  • neck and shoulder pain
  • scapular brace
  • typing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

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