Effects of Arm Support or Suspension on Neck and Shoulder Muscle Activity During Sedentary Work
K Schüldt, J Ekholm, K Harms-Ringdahl, G Németh, U P Arborelius
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects on the levels on neck and shoulder muscular activity of ergonomic aids used to support or suspend the arm in different sitting postures, both with and without movement of the arm-hand. Ten skilled women workers performed a standardized simulated work cycle similar to assembling printed circuit boards, in different sitting postures with and without ergonomic aids. The elbow was supported by a loosely-mounted, padded plate. For suspension, a new device, the K-block, was used giving an adjustable, constant suspending force. Full-wave rectified, low-pass filtered, time-averaged and normalized EMG was used. Surface electrodes were applied over six neck and shoulder muscles. The results show that a reduction in the level of activity in neck and shoulder muscles can be obtained with either aid. The reduction, whether caused by suspension or support of the arm, was related to the sitting posture. Elbow support might be more efficient than arm suspension in a sitting posture with the whole spine flexed, while arm suspension might be more efficient when the trunk is inclined slightly backward. Elbow support and, particularly, arm suspension may thus be recommended as technical aids in sedentary assembly work for patients with easily elicited cervical spine and/or shoulder pain. It is also suggested that arm suspension may be used to improve ergonomic conditions at workplaces.
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