Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

Advisor 1

Szu-Ping Lee

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Second Committee Member

Kai Yu Ho

Third Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Number of Pages



Background and Purpose:

Neck and upper extremity symptoms are common health complaints in the general population and cause a substantial financial burden to the health care system. Neck pain is known to be a multi factorial disorder, with head and spinal posture being one of the most important factors. Currently there is little evidence showing a relationship between touch-screen tablet computer usage and neck/upper extremity pathologies. However, it is fair to postulate that the incidence of neck/upper extremity pathologies is higher within touch-screen tablet computer users, considering how users maintain static postures while using the device. The primary purposes of the current study were to 1) investigate the prevalence of neck and shoulder symptoms and potential risk factors, 2) identify risk factors associated with symptoms during device use, especially in sitting postures. The secondary purpose was to investigate gender differences in device usage behavior, symptoms, and postural factors.


A cross-sectional survey study was conducted in a population of university students, staff, faculty, and alumni (N = 412).

Methods and Results:

Prevalence of symptoms during device use was 67.9 %. Most symptoms were reported in the neck (84.6%) and upper back/shoulder areas (65.4%). With sitting postures, significant symptoms during tablet use included sitting without back support (p= 0.016) and sitting with device in the lap (p= 0.002) based on Chi-square analyses. A multiple logistic regression analysis further demonstrated that female gender (p=0.004) and sitting in a chair without back support (p=0.006) are the predictors of experiencing symptoms during the use of tablets. For other general postures, the significant factors are lying on the side (p= 0.002) and lying on the back (p= 0.016) during tablet use. Furthermore, our results showed that 70.1% of the female respondents reported to have musculoskeletal symptoms during device usage, in comparison to 29.9% of the male respondents (p= 0.019). Additionally, women (75.7%) demonstrated significantly more symptoms at the upper back and shoulder regions than men (24.3%) (p = 0.014).


Computer users – Health and hygiene; Neck pain; Posture; Shoulder pain; Tablet computers – Health aspects


Physical Therapy | Rehabilitation and Therapy

File Format


File Size

2.152 Kb

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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