Upper Extremity Biomechanics and Gender: The Effects of Modern Computing Technologies
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Coppola, Sarah Marie
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CitationCoppola, Sarah Marie. 2019. Upper Extremity Biomechanics and Gender: The Effects of Modern Computing Technologies. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
AbstractStatement of problem: Modern computing devices are often designed for a one size fits all approach, and consumers purchase devices based off of technical specifications rather than whether the devices fit them. These devices are often designed for men, and they require different postures, techniques, and levels of functional strength from women. Female sex/gender is associated with higher risks of upper extremity repetitive injury, which may be caused by both physiological and the psychosocial sex/gender differences as well as increased biomechanical exposure.
Methods: Short key travel mobile computers, touchscreen tablet computers, and traditional desktop workstations were investigated for sex/gender exposure bias. This dissertation utilized direct and indirect measures including electromyography, typing force, joint movement, and self-reported questionnaires to analyze modern technologies’ effects on female and male participants. Small key travel mobile computers, touchscreen tablet computers, and traditional desktop workstations were investigated for sex/gender exposure bias.
Results: A typing study with four short travel keyboards showed that female participants are more affected by different key switch designs than male participants. A touchscreen thumb swiping study revealed that male and female participants were differently affected by tablet orientation but similarly affected by tablet size, swipe location, and swipe direction. An observational study with office workers showed that female participants used more significantly more forearm muscle activity and applied typing forces than male participants.
Conclusion: The results from the three studies suggest that there is a sex/gender bias in biomechanical exposures when using modern technology. These results demonstrate the need to include both genders in usability testing for mobile technology and to consider individual differences when designing technologies.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40976812