I use an iPad when completing ergonomic assessments. It's part of my paper-free policy. It's a great time-saver and looks professional, but I do have to admit that I do get a bit sore if I have a full day of assessments, or if I have to walk between appointments with the iPad in my handbag. The sustained neck flexion and hunching of shoulders while tapping away with the iPad on my lap or on a desk isn't the best example of ergonomics, though not so dissimilar to writing with pen and paper.
How to overcome this?
- I've started putting the iPad in my small trolley bag which contains by ergonomic equipment samples. This has made a huge difference by not having the extra weight in my handbag.
- Using the angled iPad case tilts the screen towards me, which results in less hunching over, and I try to use a desk wherever possible to elevate the iPad higher than my lap.
Check out this article from the Herald Sun about iPad use:
iPad neck - ergonomics experts warn of tablet injury
THE rise of the iPad could prove to be a serious pain in the neck if its ergonomic failings are not addressed, experts warn.
Light, portable and convenient, the tablet device is tipped to replace textbooks in classrooms and may eventually take over the domain of the laptop computer.
But the posture adopted by users could put them at risk of chronic neck and shoulder pain.
"Any activity where you hold your head forward in a flexed or bent position for a prolonged period of time is going to cause neck issues," said Dr Jodi Oakman, a senior lecturer at La Trobe University's Centre for Ergonomics & Human Factors.
The damage caused could take a long time to heal, she warned, with the risk to young children particularly disturbing.
"There's no empirical research on the iPad, but we can make a pretty good assumption based on tissue studies what's going to happen," Dr Oakman said.Victorian school- and pre-school-aged children, some as young as three, are using iPads as a learning tool as part of a State Government trial.
"Do we really want all this exposure to bad posture in the younger generation?"
Dr Oakman said while the iPad solved some problems for school children — it is cheaper, lighter and easier to carry than a laptop — it created others and should be approached with caution.
"It's a new technology that we are quick to embrace, but we don't actually know what musco-skeletal problems might be attributed to it."
She said the key to avoiding injury was to "move more, vary your positions as much as possible and, if you want to use the iPad as a typing device, use a separate keyboard".
While using the iPad as a reading device was no more risky than reading a book, she said, the danger arose when users turned to the tablet for an increasing number of tasks.
"Don't use it to replace the computer unless you give serious consideration to how the work station is set up," she said.
Massage therapist Liz Astling said she noticed an onslaught of neck pain in her clients when the iPad hit the market last year — "especially men getting really obsessed with it and not wanting to put it down."
One client, she said, had an ergonomic keyboard fitted to his computer at work and his symptoms were improving — until he started using an iPad, when the neck and shoulder pain returned.
"Across the board, people who've not necessarily had a lot of neck pain in the past are getting these symptoms," she said.
"I ask them if they have an iPad and they start telling me how wonderful it is."
Ms Astling said the iPad should receive the same ergonomic attention as the desktop computer did a decade ago, when she saw a similar pattern in her practice.
"I think it needs research," she said.