While you watch your computer, it will watch your posture

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BEER-SHEVA, Israel (Press Release)– A multidisciplinary  team at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed a new training method
using a desktop webcam to improve ergonomic posture and reduce the risk of  musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among office workers using computers.

According to an article in Applied Ergonomics in  the forthcoming issue, a group of 60 workers received both office training and  an automatic frequent-feedback system that displayed a webcam photo of a  worker’s current sitting posture alongside the correct posture photo taken
during office training.

The  results showed that both training methods provided effective short-term posture  improvement; however, sustained improvement was only attained with the  photo-training method.  Both interventions had a greater effect on older workers  and on workers suffering more musculoskeletal pain. The photo-training method  had a greater positive effect on women than on men.

“To maintain the  effectiveness of an ergonomic intervention for the long term, the intervention should be a continuous process, which includes frequent feedback,” the  researchers explain.  “This new ergonomic method can also result in preventing  MSD among workers and reduce financial loss to their employers.”

The method of  frequent and continuous feedback using photos was found to be effective in  improving the sitting posture of computer workers over time. These conclusions  have direct implications for many workers in industry and services.

It is  recommended that such self-modeling, photo-training software be installed on the  worker’s computer to provide frequent and long-term feedback. The research  suggests that this should be implemented in addition to the conventional office  ergonomic intervention that combines specialized ergonomic training and  workstation adjustments.

In light of the differences in effect between men and women, combining supplementary feedback  targeted to different audiences should be considered. For example, it is  recommended to consider adding more detailed feedback that would call attention  to deviations from the desired pose for each of the body segments, and evaluate  its deferential effect on both genders over the long term.

The  multidisciplinary team of researchers included Dr. Meirav Taieb-Maimon  and Prof. Bracha Shapira from BGU’s Department of Information Systems  Engineering, Prof. Julie Cwikel of the Center for Women’s Health Studies and  Promotion, Dr. Ella Kordish from occupational health and epidemiology and Dr.  Naftali Liebermann from orthopedic surgery at Soroka University Medical Center.

This study was funded by a grant from Israel’s Ministry  of Industry, Trade and Labor to support the incorporation of video and
computer-based technology to address occupational health problems.

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Preceding provided by American Associates of Ben Gurion University

 

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